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Last week - no typhoon damage here - fit as a fiddle. But I did get a typhoon day from school. You gotta love storms so big they don't make you go to work....
So - this week... Monday - show and tell. I teach a class on Mondays in which kids are chosen at random to give a speech in English. About anything. Just speak English, and we're OK. Short, maybe 5 or six sentences, and with pictures / visual aids if appropriate. So, the girl hands me her speech and I immediately laugh. The title is 'Today I am going to tell you about my complex' - I thought it was a translation error, but she was speaking so I just listened. It started innocuously enough with "I'm short. My height is only 150cm" - no problem. And she doesn't like milk, so she may not get taller. But what's this next line about a bast? And then, I realize that she is in fact giving the rest of her speech on the size of her chest, and what they boys call her, how she can't wear cute underwear and how she pushes her chest out.
Now, a disclaimer here - I admit, I come from a prudish society. But it was still damned funny to me to have this (16?) year old giving a speech on her chest. And of course, it's damned difficult to explain why I'm having such a time not laughing. I think the most disturbing thing was how much effort she put into learning some of those words (we don't teach most of them in class...).
A great start to a good day. Then I go to the post office to get some Yen converted to dollars (the post office does money orders in foreign currencies). I knew I was in trouble when the guy got the big manual out and was reading from it between each step of the process. But that's OK, 'cause the form is in English, and that means I can figure out what to fill out. So after a fairly lengthy procedure, I have in my hands a check for 400 USD. Since I'm late, I run back to the office. About two blocks away from the post office I have to stop to cross a street. From behind me I hear "Sumimasen! (Excuse me!) ". Huffing and puffing behind me is the man from the post office, who forgot to give me my receipt, and apparently ran after me for two blocks. Bemused, I thank him and go back to work.
Then, that evening, I get a call. It's the post office where I bought the money order. I can't understand anything else, so I forward them on to the ALT helper. She phones me back. Asks if I bought a money order. Apparently, the post office is supposed to send it, not give it to the person buying it (something about sending money across borders). So she tells me that evening a man from the post office will be by to pick it up. Please note - the post office was near the school I was teaching at, which is in fact _not_ in the city I live in. So another person from the post office drives to my house, takes the money order back, and gives me a nice soap and towel set for my trouble.
Now see, I should have realized then and there I was destined to have at least one more thing happen, but did I take precautions to prevent silly things? Nooooooo!
So - Tuesday - coming home from school (this time here in town). The police station is on the way home from school, I remember, so I'll stop and report my old bike (which was stolen about a month ago). So I get to the building, and the front door is locked. So I go around back - there are a couple of people, I stop one. I explain my bike is gone, I show him the certificate of ownership, etc. He grabs another guy. They confer. I explain my bike is gone, could they point me to the right office. They confer some more. They grab a guy in a suit, who obviously has a better position than they. I explain (once again) my situation. He nods, asks me to follow him. He leads me to the driveway, and down the sidewalk away from the 'Police Station'. He says we're going to the right place, so I follow him. Two blocks later, we arrive at the _real_ police station. So the nice gentlemen I was reporting my bike stolen to were not, in fact, plainclothesed policemen. Oh no. Once inside, he hands me his business card, and I thank him profusely. I examine the card. Oh look - he's the head guy at the education building I was just at. Which means most likely someone I report to, at least indirectly. And I tried to report my bike stolen to him...
There are days (many of them, lately) when you just feel dumb.
Thankfully, I spoke to one of the people who actually speak Japanese over here, and he said 'that's nothing - today I accidentally said 'touch me' instead of 'please have my seat' to an old lady on a train.
So I don't feel all that bad.
Anyway, there's stuff from Japan. Hope life is wonderful for you out there, and that these stories weren't too random!