A Hard Day’s Night
You probably have some idea of the insanity that is the Japanese workforce. They work from 8-9AM until 8-9PM, oftentimes even later than that. And they work on Saturdays. It’s all pretty suicidal, and I can’t think of one Japanese person who actually enjoys working that much. They do it though because the Japanese love suffering. Well, everyone loves suffering to an extent (we all stay glued to our TVs when some tragic event occurs on the news), but the Japanese fuckin’ LOVE suffering. You are not Japanese if you are not suffering in some way. With everyone else at the same time.
It’s especially rough for teachers. Leave school around 8-9PM, go home, eat, bathe, probably do some more work at home, then go to sleep to wake up and do it all over again the next day. Teachers don’t even get Saturday off, as that’s the day for sports clubs. Sundays too can be occupied with sport club competitions, or they may have to come in just to get stuff done.
I was doing a lesson with Ms. Americanized. We were teaching the ninensei the “I went to (somewhere) to do (something)” form. We do a little skit at the beginning of the lesson to demonstrate how it works. She asks me what I did over the weekend. I said something like, “I went to Nara to buy a study book. And I went to Kyoto to watch a movie.” I then asked her what she did over the weekend.
Her: I came to school to work.
Me: Really? What did you do on Sunday?
Her: I came to school to work. Again.
Me: Wow. That really kind of sucks.
Words alone cannot describe the conviction with which she said that “Yes.”
Remember that the kids do know what “sucks” means because she taught it to them.
So anyway, she’s explaining the meaning of the English sentences in Japanese, and she gets to her part. “And I went to work. Fucking work.” It rolls off her tongue so naturally, too, the way any red-blooded American would swear at their job. I don’t know why, but even after all this time I’m still not used to her liberal swearing, especially during class in front of the kids. The kids just sit there, with no idea what she just said. Well, the bastard boys would know (thanks MTV) but they rarely ever sit in class so they missed out on this gem of a moment. As usual, it cracked me up, and I just couldn’t explain to the kids why.
Later in the class, we could hear some kind of strange siren going off in the distance. The school isn’t too far from the fire station, so I imagine it was some sort of fire alarm. But it sounded a lot like the old WWII bombing-raid alarms that you hear in movies. I turned to Ms. Americanized. “Are the Americans bombing again?” I asked.
Normally, this is not a joke you’d want to make in Japan, as you can imagine they’re still kind of sensitive to that kind of thing.
Ms. Americanized turned to me, and in all earnestness, said “God I hope so.” Whoa! Homey say what now?! I didn’t get to actually say that, but she must’ve read the expression on my face, so she elaborated. “If they did, maybe, just maybe, I’d finally get a day off. C’mon America. Come bomb the shit out of us.”
Now, I’ve had long working days, but I can honestly say I’ve never gotten to the point where I’ve wanted my country bombed back to the Stone Age just so I could take a day off. I reeeaally hope she gets a vacation, very soon.