Strange day at the office

I had another weird experience today at work. But before that, I’m so happy to note that I’m gonna hop on over to Tokyo in a couple of weeks for some much needed “cultural furlough” (translation: “panda partying in the big city”). I miss Tokyo – not only my friends, but also the atmosphere, people, clubs, shopping, public transportation other than the bus…!… etc. It will be great to get back – I really need a break from the inaka.
Shinjuku, how I’ve missed you my dear! Tokyu Hands especially!
Anyway, on to my story.
Back when I was in the university, I once took a class which required me to sign up for the “Financial Times” newspaper. The paper had cut a special deal with the course professor wherein we only had to pay something like $15 (US) for a semester long subscription, which is not a bad deal for something that normally runs well over $100 a year. I really enjoyed reading the paper (what can I say, I have a weakness for props that allow me to affect a ‘learned air’ ;P) so I continued renewing at the special subscription price even after I had finished the class. (I’m sure there were some people in the circulations department wondering why one particular panda seemed to be taking the same class for four times in a row.)
Anyway, not long after I came to Japan, I found myself yearning for the air of pretension that surrounds one reading the fabled pink economic missive. But being poor, panda wasn’t about to cough up the neccessary dough to get a subscription. So after some web site searching, he decided to take advantage of the FT’s free “15 day no-obligation trial”! This was a month and a half ago.
Basically, the way it works is you just give them some basic information (name, job title, employer, address, etc.) and they send you the paper for 15 days so you can see if you like it. Of course, being a sneaky panda, I decided to give them my work address first, so they wouldn’t know where I live. The paper started being delivered the next day after I signed up and for those two weeks, it was bliss. As an aside, the paper gets delivered in this sealed plain white wrapper – sort of like mail-order porn for the geeky set.
Anyway, as the end of those two beautiful weeks drew to an end, I realized I simply could not live without my precious paper. Of course, still being broke, full blown subscription was not an option. So instead, I decided to reapply for the 15 day free trial – only this time, using the previous ALT’s name instead of mine.
Sure enough, my ninja-like panda subterfuge worked. The paper kept coming (with actually one day overlap when I received two papers) and every day it made it to my desk. Which was okay, except one day when one of the office staff delivered it to my desk, she said “here you go Matthew” (the previous ALT was named Matthew).
The Financial Times. Pardon the rather grave subject matter.
Hrm. Interesting. Well, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, both our names start with “M” and it’s fairly easy to get us confused, you know, since one was a towering 6 foot something blonde haired blue eyed white-as-a-ghost australian who couldn’t speak a lick of japanese, and the other is a short, frumpy-haired panda with a penchant for sputtering random bits of nihongo at inopportune times. Go figure. Anyway, so now, whenever this staffer sees me, she calls me “Matthew”. Go figure.
Anyway, so after the second set of two weeks draws to a close, I decide to see if I can perpetuate my evil panda plot once again and sign up for yet another two week “trial”. Only this time, I use a completely made up name: Alexander Von Schleisner, to be exact.
So this morning, I arrive at work after the three day weekend. About a half hour after I arrive, one of the other teachers walks over to my desk holding four envelopes containing the Financial Times (they still get delivered on the weekends/holidays). The following conversation transpires:
Me: *jokingly* Wow! How did you ever manage to find me!?
Teacher: uhhh…..
Me: *still joking* I mean, it’s a good thing you could find “Alex”, right?
Teacher: uhhh…… *looking slightly distraught*
Me: I mean…
Teacher: *hands me the packets*. Uhhh….
Me: You DO know my name isn’t Alex, right?
Teacher: hoonto? demo…. (really!? but then….?)
At this point, teacher wisely decides to change the topic. Pointing to the envelopes he asks: “whats inside of those envelopes?”
To which I reply “oh, just a newspaper” as I pull it out. Teacher starts snickering.
For those of you who have ever read the Financial Times, you know that for some bizarre reason, the newpaper is pink. I don’t know why, it just is. Aforementioned teacher is snickering at this fact. I inquire further
panda: “what’s the matter?”
teacher: “it’s… *snicker* pink!!!”
panda: “uhh, so…?”
teacher: “(O)&(*&@” (something incomprehensible in the local inaka dialect, but which questions my manliness)
panda: “hey, that’s not nice!”
teacher: *calms down slightly, but still snickering* “I’ve never seen a pink paper before. It looks onnapoi” (feminine)
at this point, I don’t know why, but I suffered one of those momentary disconnects where my brain stopped filtering what was coming out of my mouth. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I was thrown off kilter by realizing in rapid succession that:
a) my co-workers still don’t know my name
b) my co-workers believe that my name could plausibly be “Alexander von Schliesner”
c) my co-workers are mocking me for my choice in newspapers…!!
I sort of sputter for a second, and then, unable to come up with an appropriately witty retort, simply blurt out:
“yeah? yeah?! Well… well,…. your pants are waaaay too tight! I think that’s onnapoi!!”
*cue awkard silence and anxious shuffling of feet*
He sort of stops in mid-snicker, and his face changes into what looks like a slightly hurt expression. Before I can open my mouth to apologize, he sort of straightens up-
teacher: “ano… gomen ne.” (“umm, I’m sorry.”)
and at that he sort of slinks away to the other side of the classroom. Every time I would pass by his desk for the rest of the day, his face would turn slightly red and he’d suddenly become pre-occupied with some papers or something.
I wish I had some eloquent insight to give or witty commentary to make, but…. *shakes head* what can I say?
What a day!
Now listening to “Alizee – Moi Lolita (Club Mix)”
(she’s puuurty….)
9:41 am

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