A couple weeks ago one of the third year English teachers came up to me and asked if I would be willing to tutor one of his students. The girl wants to get a part time job working at the airport, but the job requires an English interview and she's only studied English at middle and high school in Japan, which is to say that while she is adept at English the science of taking English written exams she doesn't know English the language. You know, the one that some use as a form of communication between human beings. (Interesting sidenote, one of my teachers argues that English education in Japan is just a way for colleges to judge by a grammar test the basic diligence of an applicant, it being only indicative of the amount of time a student spent studying the subject in high school. So English isn't a subject so much as it is an aptitude test)
So I agreed to have a tutoring session with this girl and quickly realized that if she wanted to have any chance of getting this job - the interview is at the end of November - we were going to have to meet several times a week for both interview coaching and just basic conversation practice. We meet for 40 minutes or so after school, which means, as my day is officially from 8:10-4, that I am staying overtime several days a week. This leads to some of the teachers - those who lament having to stay later even though they aren't getting paid more - to make fun of me for turning into another overworked Japanese teacher, and for the rest of the teachers - those who lament having to stay later but enjoy the suffering or have nothing better to do regardless - to profess their admiration for my strong Japanese-esque work ethic. I would allay both of the camps with the admission that I take at least an hour nap every day hidden in the English teacher's room in a nice big chair, but my current position allows me to kind of chuckle silently at both their misunderstandings.
And to take nice long naps.
But, since they are very much concerned about protocol here, I am really only supposed to be here for 8 hours, and any additional time has to be compensated with time off. This being the case, I regretfully requested to come in late in the mornings in which I had after school lessons with the girl. This request was put forward in the standard way; I tell the teacher assigned to look after me, she talks to the vice-principal, the vice-principal confers with the principal and a decision is reached, this decision then passes down the same channel back to me. (The office hierarchy is quite immutable, and as a result, I have never actually talked to the vice-principal) The next morning my babysitter teacher came over to tell me the results. My request had been granted, all I had to do was inform the teacher (who would then tell the VP) the days on which I would tutor and the days on which I wanted to come in late.
I thanked the teacher, but she wasn't finished. She pursed her lips, looked around for a while, drummed her fingers on her desk, and seemed generally uncomfortable.
Luke: "Well, was there something else?"
Teacher: "Yes...I really hate that I have to tell you this. It's so stupid and embarrassing..." (Looks down)
L: (A bit concerned) "Okay...Is it about me being late on Monday this week?"
T: "No, it's about something else...the vice principal told me to tell you this..."(shuffles papers on desk) "...but I really don't want to, because it's so embarrassing."
L: (Relieved, now leaning in with a preemptory trademark smirk) "Oh yeah? C'mon, what is it?"
T: "Okay...it's about the girl you are tutoring after school." (Trails off)
T: "The vice principal told me to tell you..."
L: (Eyebrows raised and head tilted forward)
T: (flushing slightly and leaning back)"...not to make the girl fall in love with you." (Now completely flushing)
L: (Triumphant, laughing, stamping feet while sitting and clapping my hands against my knees in disbelief) "No way! That's so awesome! Were those her exact words!?"
T: "Yes, that's what she said."
L: "Oh my god, that's so great!
T: (Rolling her eyes) "Yes, but can you please not give me a hard time about this? The whole situation is embarrassing for me."
L: "Sure sure, I totally understand. But can I clear something up now?"
T: (Guarded look) "Yes..."
L: (Feigns serious look of concern) "What if, despite my best efforts to the contrary, she falls in love with me anyway? Am I still liable for that?"
T: (Head hanging) "Please Adams-sensei..."
L: (Huge grin) "Okay okay, so I'm not allowed to make this girl fall in love with me, but what about other girls at the school? Are they all fair game then?"
T: (Still hanging head but trying not to laugh) "Oh just shut up already."
L: "Where do you think this is coming from, really? Does she think I'm just some sort of out-of-control lothario?"
T: "I just don't think she knows anything about foreigners."
L: "But why would she worry about the student falling for me? Wait, wait! Do you think maybe the vice principal herself is in love with me?
L: "Too bad she looks like an Ewok."
T: "What's that?"
L: "Yeah, it's probably better that you don't get that one."