I guess I am something of a Jack of all trades.
By that, I mean I drink a lot, I do push ups, I know a girl and I own some books…the kind with words. I have had a variety, a buffet if you will, of jobs over the years and for the last 5 year’s or so my basic routine job has been “Teaching English”. I write that with meaningful quotation marks for a reason, and if you read around this blog you will find that, well, this particular career path has had it’s fair share of up’s and down’s. I have had other jobs in that time and still do but I can’t really talk about them too much or, someone might get mad, or someone might try to kill me….again or whatever. It’s enough to make one want to shotgun a beer at, what time is it? Yeah, 1100 AM.
It is April and in Japan that means it’s the beginning of a new School year. I know, who the hell came up with this dumb ass system right? We all know the only REAL way to do things is the AMERICAN WAY, right? Start the school year in the Spring? The potential analogies for “growth” or “student development” are nauseating, but not much more so than the cup of coffee I just drank, which I have to admit, I made two days ago and just realized was still on my table but its early and I’m out of coffee and its raining out so…so, whatever. It could have been worse. It has been in the past.
I actually teach at two different schools so I am running all over every week trying essentially, in the fog of whatever hang over I might have or training injury or general insanity I might be dealing with, to not go to the wrong school on the wrong day.
Monday and Wednesday at XXXXXXX
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at YYYYYYYY
XXXXXX is to keep the school private, not to try to arouse you, or hint at what I surely never think about while I am spending long periods of time in some crypt like public toilet in a random park in a residential neighborhood. Although, I wouldn’t be too surprised if I have already screwed this up and posted the names of my schools, or maybe even my bank account info or my entire sexual history in detail, someplace on this blog.
That could be a potential post: “The Dangers of Blogging After a Bender.”
I think I was talking about school starting? Ok. So Saturday, I had to attend a sort of opening ceremony at one of my schools. This was something I was really not too terribly pumped about, as it takes about 2 hours, on a good day, to get from door to door. I knew all I would be doing at the ceremony is showing up in some sort of state I could pass off as consciousness, then I would be herded onto a stage in front of new students and I would be introduced, then, like a large, handsome and well-dressed marionette I would then flop forward at the waist to bow, mumble something in way of a greeting then turn and the puppeteer would twiddle his fingers and I would gallop off the stage.
Thats it. Two hour commute ONE WAY for this.
Friday I was contacted by the other foreign puppet (read: Teacher) that works the days I am not there at the same school. He suggested that I meet him at Tachikawa station at 0800 and we could drive together to the school. This would, in theory, save me about 25 minutes and allow me NOT to take the school bus or whatever bus happened to be running. This is a real bonus as only ONE thing happens on Buses: Boners. Yeah, don’t ask, just trust me, boners occur, and that isn’t such a good thing when A: an old lady is sitting next to you and sees it or B: Your stop arrives and you have to get off the crowded bus with an iron tent stake protruding from your stylish pants. So, despite the average decibel level of this mans voice being that which shatters glass, I said “Yeah great idea see you then.”
Saturday morning, bright-eyed (essentially, I mean, I wasnt hung over, beat up or drooling) I popped into the Excelsior cafe at the North Exit of Tachikawa station to grab a Latte I would later desperately regret as, I think someone put poison or broken glass in it or something because my intestines were screaming out in pain for hours, and then saw my fellow educator pull up. I skipped out side and got in on the passenger side. The immediate wave of intensive auditory input I was then receiving was impressive and he didn’t hear the taxi driver honk his horn at us as he pulled into the Taxi area in order to turn around.
Long story short: He got busted by a cop lurking in the shadows who immediately jumped out and started blowing his whistle at us. Then, he proceeded to have an argument with the police officer that lasted about 30 minutes. He argued, he lost, he got a ticket for 7,000 yen. We were late. Next, he got lost. We became more late and his repetitive use of the word “FUCK” was directly connected to the amount of lateness we had incurred.
Arrival time at school: 0955
Original ETA: 0830
Pop out of the car, straighten my tie and head inside . I hurried up to the glass doors at the front of the school ahead of Public Enemy number 1, just trying to gain some distance for psychological reasons and there at the doors were several Japanese teachers waiting to usher in new students and greet parents. Nobody batted an eye. Nobody.
I took this as a “good sign”.
I took this to mean things were “OK”
In the part-time teachers room all the seats were full as everyone must attend the ceremony. People were chatting, laughing, sharing stories about the spring holiday etc. All of them, 25 teachers, without exception were all dressed like they were going to a funeral in cheap, unflattering black suits. I walked in and said “Ohayou Gozaimasu” in a rather upbeat, happy-morning-sunshine type of way. The type of up beat that when your exposed to it, you usually want to physically harm the person that seems THAT damn happy. Yeah, that was me. That was me. I was the happy guy. Well, it didn’t go over so well. Someone grunted, someone mumbled maybe, “ohayou” and then I think two female teachers snorted, rolled their eyes and made a rude comment about my outfit to each other (black slacks, grey sport coat, black vest, nice shirt, hip purple stripped tie, and the icing on the fashion cake, tan leather wingtips. HA!) . I went and sat down.
Public Enemy and I share the same desk as we go to school on opposing days. The desk, I could see now as I sat down was literally covered in a small mountain of print outs, updates, announcements and fliers, all in Japanese. Two copies of each print or flier had been tossed on the desk, one for each of us, so I took the initiative and separated the papers into two piles, then, I threw my pile into the trash behind me. Lets face it, I am not going to spend the hours and hours necessary, pouring over each paper with my dictionary in hand just to learn that the Jazz clubs recital has been postponed for two weeks in June. Nope. Sorry. I have better things to do…like feel sorry for myself, think about sex, zone out etc.
I noticed Public Enemy SOMEHOW managed to get an even chillier reception on entering the room then I did. This however, did not phase him and he went about screaming “hellos” and “Longtimenosees” at everyone as some people literally FLINCHED away from the power of his voice. His outfit, something I might wear to go hiking in but, with a necktie, just imagine lots of tan and pockets all over the place. He came over and flopped down on a chair next to me and said “Man, I fucking hate this shit house. Fuck.” Charming. I looked over at him and then confused, looked over my shoulder as I thought he was staring at the teachers behind me, but then I looked back for clarification and I could understand I had simply been tricked by his Lazy eye. That gets me every time. I mean, “Where are you LOOKING MAN?!?!”. I rode the school bus once when I was in 10th grade before I realized that this was the equivalent of social suicide, and, there was a girl, perhaps white, maybe not though and she was over weight and one of her eyes was a slightly different color than the other and it looked off in an odd, disconcerting direction. She terrified me.
Real positive stuff. You can imagine my energy level was through the roof. Another 11 months.
It is, completely clear, that for whatever reason, everyone in that school hates us.
I am not sure why. It’s a mystery. I am running some scenarios over in my mind….asking questions.
Public Enemy was there before me. He has been teaching there for 3 years, this is his 4th year, my 2nd and from what I can ascertain, he caused all kinds of trouble the year before I arrived. So is that it? Am I on the “Pay me no mind List” because he and I share a desk? When I am one on one with teachers at the school, we always have genuinely good conversations, free of masturbation references, fat jokes or too much profanity and it’s clear I get along well with them. Any group situation however, forget about it, I’m like a leper that stole someones Sega Genesis, I’m waiting for someone on the school bus one day to say “Sorry, Foreign teachers sit in the back of the bus…boy” and then glare at me…perhaps motioning to a sign confirming it.
The thing is, I like to be challenged. It gets me going and I am taking all this freeze out action as a sort of challenge. Line in the Sand etc.
I start official classes next week and whats the goal? Well obviously, its to rub it in every other teachers face that the students love me and dislike them. I mean, other than exposing myself or buying everyone tacos once a month, how else can I win them over?