Today, we welcome N. Peligeiro, and his favourite – if somewhat anti-heroic – character from his novel, Behind the Wheel. Meet the bane of Colegio Munich, Chester.
How to decide my favorite character from Behind the Wheel? Well there are Nick and Serious who know how to stir things up. That Pee Wee is a definite character (I still wonder the fate of his wife). Dell and his better half, Emily, have interesting stories. What about the non-romance between Marie and Fresa Carlos that is simply smoldering? And Ash deserves another chapter. But the favorite character I love to hate is, without a doubt, Chester.
What to say about Chester? Sinister little Canadian? Little man walking tall? Four-foot sack of incompetence? All those do quite well to describe the terror of Colegio Munich’s English staff rolled up in a pint-sized excuse for a director.
We’ll forgive Canada for this particular export as we try to remember Neil Young and Wayne Gretzky. In fact, Canada really has nothing to do with this case study. The only real Canadian traits about him are his love of hockey and his overuse of a thinly veiled ‘aye’ substitute.
Aye substitute? Where a parodied Canadian might recite a line such as “looks like things are pretty bad in Syria, aye?” Chester substitutes the obvious aye giveaway for ‘yes.’ So he’d actually say, “looks like things are pretty bad in Syria, yes?” Let’s just get past the fact that he’d have to kill the better part of an afternoon trying to find Syria on a map and the whole current event thing doesn’t really factor in. His main objectives are lap dog duties for greedy bosses and making the lives of foreign teachers a living hell. Still, everything is rhetorical. “Those kids need discipline, yes?” or “The bosses want everything to be stellar, yes?” and “I want all the pages of your sixty practice books graded with detailed notes by Monday and have a good weekend, yes?”
Chester first arrived at Colegio Munich a decade ago as a spiky haired, earring wearing, ripped jeans hiking, fresh out of the frat house, eager to please…ahem… teacher. After a mere year of duty and some sort of prearranged marriage to the owner’s “always asked last to the prom” niece, Chester had the old director’s chair replaced with a new and improved, cleverly devised, yet inconspicuous high chair that allowed him to finally look down his nose at any poor teacher made to sit and take whatever locura he is known to dish out on any particular day of the school year.
Sources close to me confirm that the little bastard has a nice, toasty cubbyhole with his name on it in hell.
Behind the Wheel deals with Nick’s attempt at living the dream. What dream? Nick’s not real sure either, but it takes a job that turns out to be a little more than he bargained for to help him answer that question.
Nick is part of a group of five Americans and a Canadian contracted to teach English at a distinguished bilingual private school in Northern Mexico. The principal is a clown and the students could benefit from summers spent at boot camp. Then there’s the insurmountable work load.
But things at school aren’t so bad when compared with the raging drug violence just down the block. No one is too sure why the cartels insist on cutting everybody’s head off. It seems like quite a laborious task for a body count currently around 70,000 (some sources estimate double that number).
Nick suspects living the dream has to do with a job and a life that make a little more sense than what Colegio Munich and Torreon have to offer. He’s not sure where to go or what to do after leaving, but he knows what not to look for.
About N. Peligeiro
N. Peligeiro is still trying his hand at teaching and learns more as he goes. He doesn’t subscribe to that whole “those who can’t do, teach” theory and he repents for being less than a model student back in Minnesota when he was young and knew he knew it all.
Currently Mr. Peligeiro is probably somewhere in South America, but it’s hard to say because he moves around a lot and burns through money because he has a space between his two front teeth that he hasn’t gotten fixed yet even though an old Chinese sage told him it was bad physiognomy and he’d always have financial problems while the space remained.
He likes to write when he’s got something to say. When he doesn’t he keeps his mouth shut and his pen capped.
Thanks for joining us at the Character Column today, N. Peligeiro, from somewhere in the wilds of the Amazon jungle. Never mind that ‘space between the teeth’! It’s also handy for living your dreams. Thanks also (I think) to Chester, who will one day develop an oceanic-sized appreciation for his staff. Meanwhile, I’ll just dust off the lounge…