The day before a vacation is always difficult at work, especially the day before an international vacation and you have already exhausted all of the other options for consuming time at said job. I have made lesson plans, met with speech contest students, and taken more graphic design commissions than I have in the history of ever, but I still found myself with an overabundance of free time on Tuesday.
The day seemed to have more hours than usual, but each hour was filled with occasionally deeply amusing happenings. First, I was sitting at my desk and I kept hearing English. When you live in another country for a while, you zero in on English pretty quickly. It sounded really familiar, but I couldn’t place what I was hearing. I knew it was coming from the head of the office’s computer. He was clearly watching something, but why would he be watching something I was familiar with?
Then it hit me: I was hearing my own voice. He was watching, over and over, a promotional video I had made with one of the students to show prospective junior high school students. For some reason, though, he was watching it on an endless loop. Unfortunately, English in the Japanese workplace is like an ALT dog whistle. I couldn’t stop focusing on it. Eventually I had to put in my headphones and crank up the music.
The next amusing tidbit came when the vice principal threw a few rolls in the microwave without taking them out of their plastic wrap. There seems to be a Japanese belief that Japanese plastic wrap is somehow higher quality (this part might be true) and therefore is completely safe to put in the microwave (there is no way this part is true). I was working on my computer when the vice principal suddenly YELLS from behind me. When my heart started working again I was able to focus on the fire in the microwave.
Apparently that plastic wrap was not the microwave safe kind.
The VP then pulled the still edible rolls out of the microwave (one in each hand and one in his mouth). The whole thing was made even better when he starts talking to someone about where they are going, while he is still holding the roll in his mouth.
After that drama had passed, I ran out of things to do. So, I turned to something I rarely do: play Civilization on my computer. My current vice principal and principal combination are my favorite yet. They know that I get work done and they don’t care what I’m doing as long as I show up to work and finish everything I’m supposed to. (Besides, my principal adores me and she has since I first arrived. And she’s awesome.)
Anyway, I was playing Civ when another teacher (who I have known since I arrived) sees what I’m doing and starts laughing. He then takes a quick look at the vice principal behind us, leans in close, and starts to show me his iPad.
“I’ve been playing God of War on my iPad all day. I put the headphones in so that no one else would know.” Apparently he’s a fan of Civ too, so we had a nice chat about that (quietly, so the VP wouldn’t pay too much attention, though he’s pretty chill about those kinds of things, I think).
I am glad that I have been here long enough that I am comfortable joking with my fellow teachers like that. While I am still definitely set apart from them (admittedly by my own doing as well as theirs) I feel like I’m growing to be more a part of the community with each passing month. I look forward to what the next year brings.