William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

66. Friendly Police Encounter + Open Lessons + Odds and Ends

Today was a busy busy Monday. But it was OK. I thought I’d be in two different meetings in the afternoon, and Mk. even came by – twice – but the meetings never happened. Afterwards, I learned a sage lesson from M2: “Let forgotten meetings lie.” I had been fretting about when they’d be rescheduled to, as I not only like to know the rounds of the cat’s arse, I like to know it a month or two in advance. But maybe they won’t be rescheduled, if I just keep quiet. =) Meetings here make me nervous in so many ways – it’s no particular fault of the school’s; I just feel like the language and cultural barriers are hard to see past, and I have trouble reading between the lines back home, too. In the context of the relative information vacuum that I live and work in, meetings make me nervous.

Also, I’m going to take the little things I might not like so much in better stride. This Dilbert comic comes to mind. While I haven’t had the problem of co-workers wasting my time (although the reverse is another matter entirely… j/k), I think folks like me with little work experience are part of the intended audience for this particular strip. Jobs are, you know, jobs. Very few are utopian. And living in another culture increases the challenges as much as (and sometimes more than) it augments the rewards. As much as I stand by the particulars of what I have been saying, I grant that my attitude concerning those particulars and indeed the choice of saying them or not will change greatly over the next six to nine months. Heck, yes, I have high standards – but I probably have also had (and will have again in the future) unrealistic expectations – about immersion, about work, about travel, about teaching, about school, about friendships and relationships – the whole bit.

* * *

On Sunday, I was a little bit later than usual in leaving the apartments, so I raced into the city with increased vigor. On the last stretch before downtown, I jaycrossed a “don’t walk” light or two (in Japan, you are free to bike on the sidewalk – some areas have generous sidewalks and special-colored tiles to indicate the bike path) – I looked both ways, but it was still a violation.

And just a block and a bit after doing this, I met a friendly police officer. He stopped me as I was crossing a bridge. He would have easily seen (and probably did see) my, um, moving violation.

So I get off, and I’m nervous as hell because I have no idea what he’s after or what the consequences will be. Would it be a parking-ticket-like fine, or something more serious – akin to a North American speeding ticket or traffic-light violation? He asked to see my alien registration card (to his credit, it was I who broached the slightly pejorative term “gaijin card”), and he started taking it down in his notepad, asking me for the pronunciation of my names (“Ri-li-am-u?” “Ge-or-gu?”) and, seeing my address, asking if I was associated with S.G. Amusingly in retrospect, he asked if I was a teacher or a student!

And then he said and gave the “OK” sign, and then asked to look at my bike registration sticker. So I’m still nervous, because I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I’m happy for him to take down the sticker number because I purchased my bicycle new and therefore it’s officially mine and registered as such. He radioed in the number, and then got an affirmative-sounding reply. And then he graciously excused himself and let me go on my merry way.

I’m glad I had this experience, because it’ll teach me to keep an eye open and also not to bike recklessly – there could be consequences!

I told F. and A. of my encounter at language class, and F. mentioned that the other day she’d and M. had been out on their bikes, which are still officially registered with previous owners, as the transfer paperwork is probably troublesome and might not be seen to be worthwhile for a $30 used bike. They’re biking along, and they come to a checkpoint. The officers take the two cyclists in front of them, and wave F. and M. through. Whew!

That bit of potential trouble aside, I’m happy they do spot checks, because it probably helps a lot of people get stolen bikes back.

* * *

Holy crow, it’s getting hot here. I sweat all the time. “Alternating days,” a wintertime staple of mine excepting social occasions, hasn’t been a viable option for some time unless I don’t mind smelling like gym shoes and compost. However, there were only two casualties at this week’s outdoor morning meeting. I’m always amazed at how quickly the Japanese teachers can spot trouble, and at how they instantly run in and deal with it. It looks almost like magic. I’d love to know that I could do the same sort thing if I were a teacher in an Anglospherian school. But I’ll never know unless I become such.

Finally, I discovered today that I’m on the S.G. website! Just click here, and you can see my mug at the top of the page – it has all the information about the upcoming open lesson. The picture is from my Year 2-1 art class. And, if you’re in town on Saturday the 28th, you can come see me teach Year 3 science! =)

The topic will be the lifecycle of the butterfly, which they’re also doing in Japanese science right now. There is an ongoing experiment case study, but the caterpillars keep escaping from the terrarium in the back of the classroom – we had caterpillar-related drama twice today alone.

* * *

OKAY! I think that about does it. This looks like a ticket for summer fun. I think I’ll take the ferry to Tokyo sometime in August, and then take the long way back by local / rapid (but not express or better) train – all told, I could hit Tokyo, Osaka / Kyoto, and Hiroshima, and get back for just over $200. I could stay in cybercafés or spas and the like at the latter two cities and save big on overnights, too (they offer showers, recliners, etc..). People say Japan is expensive, but from my experience it’s also a penny-pincher’s heaven.
Tags: attitudes, career, dilbert, japan, life, teaching, travel, work

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