Ms. Nurse, My Hero
At the Ghetto School, I used to sit across from Ms. Americanized. This was the greatest thing ever, because I didn’t have to go very far to hear one of her award-winning commentaries on just how fucked up Japanese schools/relationships/marriages/people/customs/pets/work habits/sleeping habits/fights to the death are. Ms. Americanized also kept me in the loop as to what was happening around the school, as the other teachers either figured I already knew thanks to my Gaijin Telepathy, or deemed I wasn’t fit to know thanks to my Gaijin Worthlessness. And, she was a life-saver whenever I got stuck in one of the endless teachers meetings, when we’d kill the time by passing notes to each other. …Not to mention the times when the teacher’s room would clear out of people, and we’d sweep the test papers and textbooks off our desks and ravage each other in a bout of hot, sweaty, aggressive, swear-word filled sex.*
At least, I used to sit across from Ms. Americanized. I came into work at the Ghetto School one day to find that my desk had been changed. No one else’s, just mine. My precious position across from Ms. Americanized had been changed to a not-so precious position sitting in front of OK Nurse. If you will remember, OK Nurse is the girl the Ghetto School teachers tried to offer up to me when they learned I was having problems with my ex. Unlike my Hot Nurse friend, who is, well, hot, OK Nurse is, well, just okay. Hence the name. …I never claimed this was rocket science people.
But, if I’ve ever said anything even remotely negative about OK Nurse, I’d like to take it back. The woman is a saint. I know this now from sitting across from her.
I mentioned before, even though there is a dedicated school counselor, she only comes in once a week, for half a day. Matters of the heart usually don’t patiently wait for the pre-appointed time no matter how Japanese you are. So when students have a personal problem, they take it up with the school nurse. I’m relatively sure this is not the job she signed up for. Like, she went to trade school for however many years, studied first aid and on-site treatment, and thought to herself, “I really want to use my abilities to help ease the bumps and bruises of junior high school students!” Instead, she has to spend most of her time playing Dr. Phil for a bunch of whiny 14-year olds. And now, by proxy, I have to listen to the problems of a bunch of whiny 14-year olds, and that is DEFINITELY not the job I signed up for. I miss my old desk.
Here’s some insight into one week of the life of Ms. OK Nurse at the Ghetto School.
A sannensei girl comes sometime around 3rd period to OK Nurse’s desk. Her eyes are red from crying out the Nile River.
Girl: Can you believe it? I just got dumped one week before the school trip. One week! How could he do that to me? We’re in the same class group too, so he’s gonna be in all my trip pictures! And I’m gonna have to see him everyday! It’s so embarrassing! What am I supposed to say? Oh, this is the worst thing ever! What am I supposed to do?
OK Nurse: There, there. Your other friends will be there too, right? It’ll be okay.
Thank God I’m not the school counselor, cause if I was this would have been a very different conversation.
Girl: Oh, this is the worst thing ever! What am I supposed to do?
Me: I have an idea. OH MY *GOD* DON’T BOTHER ME WITH THIS SHIT! ISN’T IT THIRD PERIOD?! WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU IN CLASS?! YOU KNOW WHY YOU GOT DUMPED?! BECAUSE YOU’RE FUCKING STUPID! GO BACK TO CLASS AND DON’T BE FUCKING STUPID! THEN MAYBE YOU WON’T GET DUMPED AND THEN YOU WON’T BE HERE WASTING MY TIME WITH YOUR WHINY SHIT! WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? GO TO CLASS!
Call me an insensitive bastard, but I don’t remember being allowed to skip class just because I broke up with my girlfriend. No, we sucked it up and went to class. And then cried in the bathroom. Not, uh, that I speak from experience. Total speculation, yessiree.
A boy comes to the nurse’s desk with a stomach ache. So he says. OK Nurse takes a look at him and asks him some questions and doesn’t particularly find anything wrong with him, on the surface. “It hurts, it really hurts” he says, with all the emotion and depth of a Keanu Reeves performance. “I think I ate some bad sushi this morning. Oh man, I think I’m dying here!” OK Nurse asks if he’d like to go to the hospital. “No no no, that’s not necessary. Just let me sit here for awhile, I think it’ll pass.” Later, some friends of his stop by during the break between classes, and the boy makes a miraculous, spur of the moment recovery as he jokes around with them.
OK Nurse: Wow, you’re feeling much better!
OK Nurse: Your stomach ache. It seems to have gotten better.
Boy: Oh! Ooooh, ooooh, it still hurts, unbearable pain!
OK Nurse: You were doing so well.
Boy: You know, I was holding it in, gotta be a man and all…
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the boy doesn’t have a stomach ache. “I don’t feel good, I’m going to go see OK Nurse” is the Number 1, tested and approved way for students to get out of class. The teachers know the kids are full of shit (not literally, or else they really would have stomach aches) but pretty much allow it. Got a test you wanna get out of? Stomach ache. Didn’t do your 5th period homework? Stomach ache. Wanna avoid the kid who just broke up with you? Stomach ache.
Again, had I been the school nurse, it would have been a very, very different examination.
Boy: Oh, the pain, oh the agony! It hurts so much!
Me: Well, I just looked you over and I didn’t really find anything wrong with you.
Boy: It hurts, it really, really does! Oh, I think I’m dying.
Me: Ok, ok, I believe you. I do have a special examination that’ll figure out exactly what’s wrong with you.
Me: Yeah. Come closer a little bit. Ok, right there. (gives the boy a Rocky-championship winning punch to the gut)
Me: Hmm yes. I’m pretty sure you’re experiencing pain because someone punched you in the stomach. You’d better take it easy for a period or two. You’ll just have to make up that math quiz.
This kid has punched more than his fair share of faculty, I figure karma ought to catch up to him sooner or later.
Even before my desk was moved, I was vaguely aware that some girls would come to OK Nurse’s desk, simply complain about “not feeling well”, and bury their heads in their arms for an hour or two. Many times, they’d come in and take their temperature. I also noticed that this always happened around the same week every month, and it was usually the same girls every time. I wondered if this was some sort of galactic coincidence, or perhaps a higher, well-thought-out conspiracy to get the girls out of classes. When I casually mentioned this to my girlfriend, she gave me a nice smack on the head for being insensitive to the “special needs of a growing young woman.” For the men out there who were just as clueless as I was, that means that these girls were experiencing menstrual cramps.
How was I supposed to know this shit? I’m a man, we *never* think about that unless we have no other choice. We spend a great deal of time trying to avoid it. I can guarantee you, 99.99999998% of men do not spread open issues of Playboy/Maxim/Victoria’s Secret/Martha Stewart Living, look at the scantily-clad maidens within and think, “Wow, I wonder how bad her period cramps get?” Also, to me at least, these kids are still … well … kids. I get uncomfortable when the boys talk about how many pubes they’ve grown lately (yes, they do talk about that, do you even have to ask?), I certainly don’t want to think about 14 year old Japanese girls bleeding from the snatch.
Of course, this is another area that falls upon our gentle patron, OK Nurse. OK Nurse listens to their cries of agony, sometimes trades stories (eww) to commiserate, and is always there with the extra box of napkins for when that Jr. Maxi Pad has finally reached its limit.
Again, this is shit I just can’t handle. If it were me, while the girl would be telling me about how much agony she was in, I’d be slowly but surely kick-sliding her chair away from anything valuable of mine she could possibly get blood all over.
You know, proofreading this post, I sound kind of like a bitter, angry bastard.
While I make no claims to the contrary, I would like to specify that the Ghetto School has a way of getting under one’s skin. For every time I’ve dreamed of giving a little bastard a solid shoryuken to the basket, the Japanese teachers – who have to deal with it every day of the week – have probably dreamed of ten times worse.
But Az, you say, they’re just kids! Yes, and they’re little shitheads. You can excuse kids’ shithead behavior up to a point, but then you get to a point where they’re old enough and you should call them on their shithead behavior. Except in Japan, where there’s nothing the teachers can do about it, and when the kids realize that they then power up to Ultra Mega Hyper Shithead and things really go downhill, as they have at the Ghetto School. I don’t care who you are, spend enough time at the Ghetto School, and you will want to throw bricks at some of these kids heads. Ghandi would be throwing bricks. Well, maybe just one brick, because Ghandi was kinda scrawny and I imagine he could really only power one out before getting tired. But he’d make that one count, I promise you.
I come back to the teachers room after a class, and I find Curly of the Three Stooges sitting at OK Nurse’s desk. OK Nurse is out, having accompanied a student to the hospital. Curly is giving me a suspicious grin, but thanks to OK Nurse’s stack of books I can’t really see what she’s doing.
After a while, Curly gets bored and goes off to go cause mischief or get pregnant or whatever she does here, because it certainly isn’t attending classes. I go back to my Japanese studies, but then find that my favorite pencil is missing. I look everywhere around my desk for it, but I can’t find it. Odd, because I know I’d left it on my desk before heading out to class.
Eventually, OK Nurse comes back from the hospital.
OK Nurse: Whoa! Somebody’s been scribbling graffitti all over my desk! And whose pencil is this?
Me: (suddenly realizing Curly’s stupid grin) That would be mine, sorry. The graffitti is a work of [Curly] though.
OK Nurse: She stole your pencil?
Me: Yeah, I left it on my desk before going to class, came back and saw her looking suspicious, then discovered that my pencil was missing.
OK Nurse: Ah, I see. You should be careful not to leave your pencil on your desk.
Me: Right, sorry. I thought the teachers’ room was, you know, restricted student access (teachers’ rooms are supposed to be “no students allowed”).
OK Nurse: Unfortunately, this isn’t that kind of school.
Me: One where teachers have control of the students?
OK Nurse: (sighs heavily) Yes.
Larry of the Three Stooges is hanging out at the nurse’s station. She’s liberally going through OK Nurse’s desk, looking for “something interesting.”
Larry: Where do you keep your toys anyway?
OK Nurse: I’m too old to play with toys.
Larry: Not those kind of toys. You know. (hushed voice) Adult toys.
OK Nurse: Now, I DEFINITELY don’t play with those kind of toys.
Larry: Oh, so you just use your hand then?
OK Nurse: (laughing) Oh, you…
Me: (Why dear God am I being subjected to this? Have I failed you in some way and this is punishment?)
Larry: Hey, is this the book you’re reading?
OK Nurse: Yeah, it’s pretty good. Oh, please don’t drop the bookmark, or else I won’t know where I left off…
Larry: (summarily takes the bookmark out) Now what?
OK Nurse: (laughing) Well, I guess I can figure out what page I was on.
Larry: (summarily rips the page out of the book) Now what?
OK Nurse: Well, now I DEFINITELY know what page I was on.
And yes, were it me, this would have been a very different conversation.
Larry: (summarily rips the page out of the book) Now what?
Me: Say, didn’t you have a stomach ache? C’mere, let me give you an exam.
I really miss my old desk.