Gum, taxis and confused panda

This week is exam week, which means that I get to sit at my desk and do nothing all week, an arrangement that seems strikingly similar to jobs I’ve held in the past (save the miserable year I spent working for the USDA, where my work week was dominated by incidents of exploding bags of cow shit, hydrochloric acid spills and torturous days spent locked in a tiny 8×10 foot concrete cell with a “particle sizer” – a medieval instrument comprised of shaking, smoking, banging metal on metal parts and wildly oscillating clanking and smacking arms/levers that redefines the term “cruel and unusual punishment”)…
It’s a little known fact that cake is an excellent conditioner!
errm, where was I? Oh yes, anyway, so I have to sit at my desk for 8 hours on end and do nothing. For an entire week. Actually I have a computer, so the time is not as unbearable as it used to be when I first got here sans pasokon, as it were, and I was forced to entertain myself by reading one of the 27 dictionaries (no exaggeration) left on my desk by my predecessor. On the plus side, I did up my word power. For example, did you know there was such as word as “defenestrate”…?
defenestrate: de-fen-es-trate; tr.v. de-fen-es-trat-ed, de-fen-es-trat-ing, de-fen-es-trates.
To throw through or out of the window; “The rebels stormed the palace and defenestrated the President”
Wow, who would have guessed? What amazes me more is that apparently at some point in history, people were throwing enough things out of windows (presidents included, apparently) that some guy had to sit down and think “hmmm…. you know, we simply need a more scientific-sounding transitive verb to describe the process of throwing things out of windows… I got it!!! How about “DEFENESTRATE”…!?”
Fortunately, my computer allows me to pass the time in a more efficient and productive manner, by providing me with the ability to read all about things like how some guy trained his cat to use the toilet, a revolutionary new approach certain to breath fresh life into traditional schools of thought concerned with, uhh… the way cats poop, I suppose.
Pengu and Wombat get down and get funk-ay!
This amazing window into a world filled with all sorts of frightening and lonely people not withstanding, sitting at one’s desk with nothing to do but attempt to stave off hunger and the increasing desire to smack one’s co-workers is certain to bring about a certain amount of reflective introspection in a person, a fate which I was fortunately saved from today.
Right about the halfway point of my day, the teacher next to me throws his stuff down on his desk with an exhasperated and slightly pained sigh, and proclaims himself to be “incredibly dizzy” and that “the world is spinning”. Concerned for his welfare, I politely inquire if he’s feeling well, and if perhaps he might want to consider going home / going to see a trained medical professional (make note of this, because this is a recurring theme today).
“No” he replies – “I think I’ll just have some gum.”
*blink eyes rapidly to clear confusion*
“uhhh… come again?” I inquire.
“I’ll just have some gum!” he repeats, and with that, he starts popping a few little pieces of gum into his mouth (politely offering me some as well, which I accepted, since I was eager to see what, if any, magical anti-dizzying properties said wunder gum possesed).
After about 5 minutes of some intense chewing and lip smacking, he gets up to get a drink of water. Upon returning to his seat, he sort of staggers for a second, then steadying himself on the chair with his hands, he grimaces and looks towards me:
“I’m still so incredibly dizzy…! I don’t feel well at all…”
More drunken dancing gaijin.
At this point, I again become concerned for his welfare, worried that perhaps he was suffering from a stress-induced anxiety attack or heaven forbid, a heart attack, and so start to get up, so as to help him to sit down. As I stand up, I voice my concern that perhaps he should consider going home, or else seeking some medical help.
“No, that won’t be neccessary – I think I just need some more gum” he replies, politely rebuffing my offers of assistance and slowly seats himself at his desk.
Unsure of what to do, I speak plainly:
“Uhhm.. yeah. If you’re not feeling so well, perhaps it would be a good idea to take something WITH A GREATER MEDICINAL VALUE THAN GUM….!”
Undeterred by my slightly elevated tone of voice, he dismisses my concerns with a wave of his hand and proceeds to mow through three packs of gum in the span of an hour. Apparently, Western doctors have been overlooking the value of the lowly gum pack for some time now, as 36 pieces of “Very Berry” flavored Xlitol gum later, my co-worker seemed to still be alive, and somewhat less dizzy, though it was sort of hard to tell as he just sort of sat at his desk with his head down and didn’t move for several hours until it was time to go home.
Anyway, after the gum incident, I continued to sit at my desk and surf the mysteries of the vast interweb, reading about such enlightening incidents like how some australian guys completely tin foiled every square inch of their friend’s home in his absence and other similarly heartwarming stories, until suddenly, a vast, but quiet commotion, seemed to spread over the (mostly deserted at this point) staff room, and all the teachers rapidly emptied into the hallway.
Sunday was a bright, beautiful sunshiney day!
Alarmed that perhaps there might be a fire, tornado or earthquake headed this way and someone forgot to tell the ALT, I quickly followed them into the hallway where I find them huddled in a group anxiously consulting one another.
“Uhh, what’s going on?” I inquire. Gum sensei turns towards me and replies
“A student blacked out out in the hallway. We’re debating what to do about it.”
Now, I know there are all sorts of cultural differences between Japan and the West, but in general, I’m of the opinion that if a student passes out for no discernable reason in a school hallway, one should probably seek some sort of professional medical attention, or, at the very least, attempt to move the limp comatose body out of the middle of the busy hallway in which it is sprawled. However, this is Japan, and things only get more surreal from here.
The football huddle of teachers breaks up suddenly and people go scurrying off in every different direction. Alarmed, I turn towards one fo the teachers and ask what’s going on.
“Ah, well, we’ve decided to call a taxi and bring the student home”.
Tako says: “Remember kids! Always drink your orange juice!”*
*vodka sold separately (^_^);;
Let me repeat that. The GROUP CONSENSUS as to what to do about an UNCONSCIOUS STUDENT laying in THE MIDDLE OF A HALLWAY is….. TO CALL A TAXI and TAKE THEM HOME…..!!!??
*boggles* I practically trip.
“Are you serious…!!?? Don’t you think it would be a good idea to get them some medical attention? Or maybe call an ambulance? Or maybe… and I hope I’m not going out on a limb here, but if you must involve a taxi at some point, what about having that taxi take them somewhere with trained medical professionals and/or equipment related to the saving of injured human beings…!!!??”
Without so much as batting an eyelash the teacher turns to me and states simply:
“But they’ll be more comfortable at home in their own bed….!” and walks off.
From the calm and absolute manner in which he replied to me, I am guessing there is some sort of profound inference to be made about the vast cultural boundaries which exist between our two nations, though I’m afraid I have no idea what that may be. Nonetheless, the events transpired exactly as decided by group consensus – a taxi was called, the student was loaded (apparently still comatose from what I’ve managed to gather, though I’m not sure) and then delivered not to a hospital, but to her house, where presumably a parental figure was available to deal with a strange taxi cab driver dropping off the limp body of their child whom they had sent, most definitely conscious and kicking, just that very morning off to school.
This country perplexes me sometimes…
Anyway, more photos from the big ol’ party this weekend (those pics you see scattered about through this post despite having nothing to do with the subject at hand) can be found in the photo gallery:

http://www.michaelpanda.com/web/photos/nanao/

Enjoy pictures of random drunkeness! Anyway, enough rambling, I’m off to bed.
Now watching: “Mystery Men”
(“yeah, so you might want to maybe consider putting on some shorts or something, you know, if you want to keep fighting evil today…
10:05 am

2 Reactions

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