Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sticky compliments

On Thursdays I have a horrible schedule. I'm up at five, to avoid the rush on the Osaka loop line, and teach two classes, then have lunch, then one class, and then I skip one class and teach one more after that. That skipped class can be a good thing, as it gives me time to catch up with paperwork from the first three classes, but on days when I am very tired, like last Thursday, it can be a pain in the arse. I slow down, and getting up to speed again for that last class is hard.

I don't know why I was so tired last week. I didn't get enough sleep, but I rarely do, so I don't think that was it, unless it is the suddenly colder weather getting to me. Do you need more sleep in colder weather? Whatever, I was knackered. In the breaks and at lunchtime I chatted with my colleagues as usual, but had a tendency to sink deeper into my chair and mumble in monosyllables.

During my skipped period another teacher uses my classroom. (He was moved from his because his noisy classes were offending the French teacher next door.) I always enjoy chatting with him. He is working on his PhD, and I'm fascinated by his research (about foreign teachers in Japanese universities) and always want to know how it's going.

When he came back from his class he asked me if I'd had a good rest and was feeling better.

I hadn't, and wasn't. I just wanted the day to be over. It seemed to be lasting longer than usual.

I went in to teach my last class. Outside the door I paused to dredge up some energy, and then walked in.

"Good afternoon!" I said, cheerfully.

A few students stared at me blankly. Several didn't wake up. The rest carried on chatting with each other.

Feeling somewhat deflated I went to the podium (which is huge and inconvenient) and dumped my materials on top of a sticky note. What was that? I moved my stuff and had a look.

You're a nice person, BadAunt, said the sticky note. (Except it was my real name.)

I looked up. Who had put that there? None of the students looked expectant, or guilty. I grinned, and started calling the roll.

Once I got the students busy with their first activity, I opened the cupboard under the podium to get the other materials I'd left in there. There was another sticky note.

BadAunt, you make Thursdays nicer, it said.

The rest of the class went really well, and I ended the day feeling happy. I was still tired, but I felt good.

After work, as usual, a bunch of us met at the curry shop for dinner. While we were eating and arguing about something I suddenly remembered the sticky notes, and turned to the colleague who had used the classroom before me.

"Thanks for the notes," I said. "I'd been feeling tired and a bit down, and they surprised me into a good mood. That class went really well."

He grinned.

On Friday I was going to tell a couple of my female colleagues about the sticky notes, and just as I opened my mouth to speak I suddenly wondered how they'd take it, and closed my mouth again. If I told them he'd left sticky complimentary notes in my classroom they might think he was hitting on me, and it wasn't like that. Was it? It hadn't even occurred to me before that moment. All I thought was that he got bored while his students were doing some writing, had some sticky notes handy and decided to surprise me.

At least that's how it seemed to me, and it's how I'm going to treat the incident, but am I being naive? Have I been out of the game too long? Have I forgotten how to notice cues?

What would you think if a colleague did that to you?


Kay said...

I'd think it was a delicious act of random kindness, directed this time at me, and smile at the colleague and be glad I said how nice it made my day. Hidden agenda? Don't even think it in this case. There's too much of that going around.

Wiccachicky said...

Oh, I doubt it was him hitting on you. I try to do nice little things like that for my colleagues when I know we are all wiped out in the semester...

suki said...

very nice. :)

Anna said...

Nah, it just sounds like he was trying to cheer you up. He sounds nice. Hitting on you would involve more alcohol. *wink*

Badaunt said...

I think you are all right. I just wanted to check, because I'm SO out of the loop these days I was worried I was missing something obvious. It FELT innocent.

(Also, if he was hitting on me, he would have used a less innocuous word than 'nice,' I think.)

Wiccachicky said...

Most likely...if you were really trying to get someone's attention that way, more ambiguous language would probably be the route to go.

Cheryl said...

Nobody says 'nice' (or person) if they have ulterior motives.
At very least you would have been wonderful or beautiful and possibly woman, too.
I think you got it just right!