This Sunshine Rose In The East

, , , | Hopeless | September 28, 2018

(I am an exchange student in Japan, and I also work part time at an English school. Currently I am handing out leaflets for my school in front of a subway station. A lot of people glance at me, but very few take the leaflets, so I feel a little embarrassed. I am reading out a spiel in Japanese about our school when a little old lady comes up to me.)

Little Old Lady: “[Something in Japanese that I can’t hear because of a train passing by]… very beautiful!”

Me: *in Japanese* “I’m sorry?”

Little Old Lady: *after a little thinking, in English* “Your hair!”

Me: *in Japanese* “Oh, thank you!”

Little Old Lady: *in Japanese* “Yeah, you have a really beautiful hairstyle! How do you braid it like that?”

Me: *in Japanese* “Oh, it’s really simple…” *explains how to braid the hair*

(We end up chatting about hairstyles a little more, when I remember why I’m there in the first place.)

Me: “Oh, would you perhaps be interested in taking English classes?”

Little Old Lady: “Oh, no! I’m too old to remember all that stuff!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sure that’s not so!”

Little Old Lady: “I’m sorry for not being interested in what you’re promoting.”

Me: “No, that’s okay! Thank you!”

(She didn’t take a leaflet, but she was the best customer I had! Thank you, lady, for brightening the day of a silly, lost, foreign girl! I really wish I knew an equivalent of, “Thanks for brightening my day!” in Japanese!)

Code Blue: Lazy Coworker!

, , , | Working | September 25, 2018

(I work on a Navy ship. I go into my work-center one morning and see something I never even imagined I’d ever see. The filters for electronic equipment I am responsible for have turned BLUE over the weekend. It turns out my coworkers had to repaint a door and sanded it down in the work-center first; thus, the blue paint dust got sucked into my equipment’s filters. Cleaning the filters falls under a specific maintenance plan, and this one is a monthly “check.” However, by the rules, I can slip in an extra one if the need arises, as long as I tell the work-center supervisor.)

Me: “Hey, [Supervisor]. My equipment is… blue. I’m going to do the M1 check on it.”

Supervisor: “Okay. Thanks for the heads up.”

(Some time later:)

Coworker: “Hey, [My Name]… That check was scheduled for me this week, anyway.”

Me: “Was it? Okay, well, it’s done now. I wasn’t going to leave it with blue filters.”

Coworker: “Well… you’re not going to do the rest of my checks, too?”

Me: “Seriously?”

Coworker: “Yeah, you should do the rest of my checks, too!”

(Yes, my coworker was annoyed that I didn’t do the rest of his work for him. He didn’t care that the job needed to be done immediately — obviously dirty filters are an electronic safety issue! He just felt I should have done the rest of his work for him, too.)

Adorable Level: Black Belt

, , | Hopeless | September 19, 2018

I work with Japanese toddlers, who, like toddlers the world over, say the cutest things, especially when imitating the adults in their lives.

While putting on her shoes one day, one of the three-year-old girls — who hasn’t yet started speaking English unprompted — said to me in Japanese, “I have to go home now, sensei, but it will be okay; don’t cry!” I had to smother my laughter until she had gone.

An Ugly Opinion On A Beautiful Process

, , , , | Friendly | July 24, 2018

(I moved to Japan and met the love of my life. We soon got married and settled down, and now we are trying for a baby. This story takes place in a grocery store as I’m shopping for food to make dinner. I spot a female friend of mine — also a foreigner — and her husband at the same store, and I start chatting with my friend. She gets excited about the baby and asks what gender it is, and I tell her we don’t know because we want it to be a surprise. That’s when her husband pipes up.)

Friend’s Husband: “It’s going to be a girl.”

Me: *laughs* “I hope so. But I’ll be okay if the baby’s a girl.”

Friend’s Husband: “No, it’s a girl. I can tell; girls steal your beauty.”

(At this, he looks pleased by what he says. Meanwhile, my friend looks horrified and I glare at him.)

Friend’s Husband: “What? What did I say?”

Friend: “At what point during you thinking that and then saying it did you decide it was the right thing to say?”

Friend’s Husband: “But it’s true! Just look at her!”

Me: “Yeah, carrying the next generation of your family really does a number on you.”

Friend’s Husband: “It’s not that hard being pregnant, you fat pig!”

(Everyone in the aisle turned and stared, a few glaring women included. He stomped off, red in the face, as my friend hurried and apologized to me. She later divorced him, as it turns out he was a Gaijin Hunter, just using her for arm candy and for an excuse to say some downright racist things about Americans and Europeans. Joke’s on him, though; it turns out the baby was actually BABIES. Twins! A boy and a girl.)

An Earth-Shaking Revelation

, , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2018

I work in an international preschool in Japan, teaching three-year-olds. As a combination of their age and English being their second — or third — language, their understanding of things can be rather skewed, and funny as a result.

We have an earthquake drill one day, the first one that my class has ever done. I talk about it beforehand to make sure they have a general idea of what to do. I explain earthquakes in a very basic, kid-friendly way, emphasizing the shaking and “things breaking and falling” aspect, and areas of the room to stay away from, for safety. I remind them that it is all pretend, but important to remember in case of a real earthquake in the future.

The drill begins after lunch, and we make our way outside once the alarm stops ringing. They all find it very funny to wear the safety cushions to protect their heads, but there is minimal messing around. We make sure everyone is accounted for, and head back inside. One of my kids starts pointing around and speaking Japanese in astonishment, saying, “The building didn’t fall down! Nothing is broken?” I think maybe she expected the earthquake to happen inside the school, while we were outside?

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