A Straw Most Final: Not Another Teen Postscript
I’m doing a lot these days, it seems.
Yes, the situation at the school with the other teachers and the VP was bad, very bad. I don’t think it should discourage people from wanting to come to Japan though. Not all situations are like this. And it’s not really something you can say, “Man, Japan sucks!” about, because there are shitty jobs and coworkers in ANY country. As much as I disliked that school, it doesn’t steal away the title of “My Worst Job Ever,” which was a ride operator for a Six Flags amusement park.*
But it is a situation that exists, and it’s not unique to me. One of my biggest gripes with the whole English teaching in Japan thing is how they bring us in so totally and wholly unprepared. If you truly are interested in teaching English in Japan, don’t read stories like this and be scared off–instead, learn from them. If I can help people come here and be at least a little better informed about what they’ll be facing than I was, then I’ll be glad to have been of some help.
Another thing about dealing with bad situations in Japan is, you kind of have to do it Japanesely. Raising a big stink, directly confronting the VP, or even Gaijin Smashing him not only would have made things worse, but served to reinforce the “Americans are pushy and rude” stereotype that many Japanese people have of us. It’s not me losing my American-ness, but learning to adapt to a different culture. When in Rome, they say. When foreigners come to America, we expect them to play by American rules, so for us to go overseas and still expect to do things our way is hypocritical and arrogant, I feel. A baseball club visiting another team’s ballpark wouldn’t expect to bat in the bottom of the inning and have the fans cheer for them, would they?
Actually, when Ms. S first came to the School of Peace, it caused problems for me. She created the English Club, and wanted me to attend the meetings everyday, which meant that I’d be at work for 1-2 hours over contract. Also, while I liked the English Club kids, I also liked being able to wander around and interact with other kids in other clubs. It was fun batting around with the baseball club, or giving badminton a try, or even just talking with the track and field club girls when they were on break. I didn’t like being asked to go to the English Club everyday, but I didn’t say anything directly about it.
The next time I was at the Board of Education, I casually asked if I could leave work a few minutes early. My supervisor agreed, and said that I was probably entitled to it if I’d been staying late at the schools. In a “by the way” manner, I told him that I actually had been staying late at the School of Peace, as I had to go to English Club meetings everyday. I also mentioned how much I liked the English club, but that I also enjoyed visiting with other clubs as well. The supervisor gives me a nonchalant, “Ah, is that so?” and I take off early.
The next time I went to the School of Peace, I noticed Ms. S didn’t ask me to go to the English club everyday. She only asked me to go once or twice a week, and usually made an effort to try and end any plans involving me by my contract hours. This was perfect–I could get my English Club time in, I could still visit the other clubs, and now I could choose if I wanted to stay late or not. As I’d never said a word of this to Ms. S, I can only assume that my supervisor at the BOE contacted her and talked about the situation with her, to which she responded appropriately. In America, going about things this way is terribly round-about, and maybe even rude. But this is just how Japan works. And in the end, it worked out well for all parties involved.
At any rate, the contracting organization knows about the VP. And judging from conversations with some of the teachers, I’m pretty sure the school itself is well aware of his ways too. If they choose to do something about it, they will. If they don’t, whatever, it’s not my problem anymore. I gave them the problem in a manner that lets them deal with it on their own terms, not mine.
And lastly, for the umpteenth time, why postings are ~6 months behind–Gaijin Smash went online in May/June (?) 2006. From then until February 2007, the old archives from Outpost Nine were chronologically posted. While I’m sure this was excruciating for all the old OP9 fans, it gave me a much needed break to finish my time on JET, move apartments, find new work (the second teacher job), quit it, and then find new work again.
When the archive re-post finished in February ’07, I began posting about the stuff that happened from May/June 06 that nobody had read about yet. It doesn’t make sense to gloss over eight months of material to keep things present. Not to mention, this system works best for me. It gives me time to plan out what I’m going to write about next, and how. Which is why I can put up two quality (?) updates on a fixed day twice a week, rather than try to scribble about something that happened yesterday or the day before and throw it up as soon as possible.
So yes, the editorial world is just now moving into December, 2006. Now, if I have to explain this again, I’m going to start killing babies. Starting with the cutest ones, and working my way down.
*If there’s interest, I’ll do a write-up about this job from hell….If there’s interest.