Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Yet another 'my day' post

Yesterday morning I was up (unwillingly) at sparrowfart, and managed a semi-coherent discussion with The Man over my cup of tea about the colours in that leaf picture (the last in the post below). I hadn't changed them, because I don't trust my screen. It's old, and doesn't show colours the same way they show up on his better screen. He wanted to know if it looked like the real thing on his machine or whether it needed adjusting.

It looked all right, but I wasn't sure.

I headed off to a coffee shop for breakfast. I go to a little place that has been around for so many years the owners have gone from old to ancient before my eyes. The daughter is now taking over, and it's about time, really. It was getting a bit difficult. You never knew if your toast would be delivered or whether it would end up burning to a crisp as the old people dithered around mopping up the latest spill. I love the old couple, but breakfast was becoming hazardous.

Their customers have grown ancient along with them. I think I'm the only customer under seventy on Tuesday mornings, aside from a couple of businessmen in their fifties who come in just as I'm leaving. There's a scary old bloke on the motorbike who parks halfway out on the road, another two or three old men, and one elderly woman.

I hate using the toilet there. It used to be all right, but recently the old men seem to be getting worse. Yesterday the motorbike guy hadn't flushed, again, and the toilet paper had run out but he hadn't replaced it, despite there being a new roll right there ready to go on the holder. Also, he'd left the seat up.

The other thing I hate about the toilet there is that they use that blue stuff in the toilet water. WHY? WHY? WHY? I do not understand it. As a mild hypochondriac I want to KNOW what colour my urine is.
What if it suddenly turns red? That has happened to me before. I'll admit it turned out to be nothing serious, but YOU NEVER KNOW.

They make great coffee at my Tuesday breakfast coffee shop, though, and I do enjoy going there. It is also the only time of the week I watch TV. They have a huge widescreen TV in the tiny little shop, and yesterday I saw a clip of Madonna's dancing buttocks on one of the morning shows. I would never see stuff like that if I didn't go there.

After breakfast I took the train to the station near the university, then noticed that it was still only eight fifteen. Classes start at nine, and I had some photocopying to do but not much, and the university has suddenly gone completely non-smoking. The result of this wonderful new no-smoking policy is that now the students smoke everywhere instead of only in designated smoking areas (which were outside anyway). This is incredibly annoying if you're wanting a puff yourself but you're a teacher and have to set a good example. They used to have a little room staff could use, out of sight, but that's gone. Towards the end of the day particularly, wandering around campus has become hell. I walk past an openly smoking student, slow down, inhale deeply, and almost faint from jealousy. This even happens inside, as students are now smoking in the toilets, too. They never used to do that.

Anyway, I decided to have yet another coffee and a smoke before heading up to the university, and the only place nearby was McDonalds. I usually don't go there (don't like fast food much, don't like hamburgers, don't like the atmosphere, don't like the wastefulness of paper cups and so on), but it was the only option. I went in, and was served by a young woman wearing extremely uncomfortable blue contact lenses. She blinked and blinked and blinked. When you got a glimpse of her eyes between blinks they were a watery blue and red, inflamed from the irritation. The effect was bizarre, as if there were an enraged alien trying to emerge from her head and she was blinking it back.

Stoked up on nicotine, the morning classes went all right. At lunchtime I went for a walk outside campus and had a smoke out of sight of students, and in the process discovered some leaves just like the ones I photographed yesterday, which The Man and I had talked about in the morning. I collected a few to take home, for colour comparison. (They've faded a bit already, though. I should have pressed them inside a book, apparently.)

In the class after lunch I think I got the answer to something that has been bothering me a little. There is one student I really don't like. I try not to show this, but it is hard. He makes horrible sexual comments about me in Japanese, and I pretend not to understand (which is easy because I always pretend not to understand much Japanese), but although I can ignore these I can't pretend to myself it didn't happen. He also flirts in a really nasty way - with me - as if he thinks he is irresistibly attractive. He acts knowing and nasty about it all, and seems to be trying to convince some of the other students that something is going on between us. The thought makes my skin crawl.

The whole thing is distasteful and creepy, and while I can deal with it I'm glad there are only four more classes left. It has been fairly easy to avoid paying attention to him (and he tries REALLY HARD to get my attention, all the time), but still, it will be nice not to have to. I don't think I've ever had a student quite so unpleasant before. Usually the eighteen-year-old guys at this place are cute and funny and naive, but there is nothing cute, funny, or naive about this guy.

Yesterday as I walked into the classroom after lunch almost the first thing I noticed was an overpowering smell of alcohol. It was a mixed sort of smell, combining the reek that comes off the skin and sweat of habitual heavy drinkers with the smell of fresh alcohol on someone's breath. It was really, really strong. I have smelt the alcohol on skin smell in that class before, but not as strongly, and not so that I could pin it down to anybody.

Yesterday, however, when I walked past the creepy student I almost got drunk just from breathing in. It was OVERPOWERING. A few minutes later, after I'd put the students into groups and he was facing other students, I noticed one of the guys in his group whispering something to him. After that he sat covering his mouth with his hands, and carefully NOT attracting my attention (very, very unusual), and about ten minutes later he asked to be excused to go to the toilet. He then disappeared for about twenty-five minutes, and when he came back the smell was greatly reduced.

I don't know why I didn't put two and two together before. I guess I was too busy avoiding him, or staving off murderous thoughts.

Oh, well. Just four more classes, and with a bit of luck he'll be absent once or twice. He hasn't yet, but I can always hope. I would love to fail him (the ultimate teachers' revenge) but that would be unprofessional. He has done the work, after all. What a shame.

In my last class something amazing happened. I love that class. The students are keen. It has my favourite student (the handjob guy).
(Why do I not mind him teaching the other students bad words but object to the drunk guy's disgusting comments? BECAUSE HE IS RESPECTFUL TOWARDS ME, THAT'S WHY. Also, he is nice and funny. Teaching rude foreign words to your friends is NORMAL. Flirting with a teacher your mother's age is not.)

During this class I was wandering around helping out various groups with a general knowledge quiz I'd given them, and at one group I squatted down to explain something. As I squatted I raised my hand to gesture, hit my necklace, and it flew up towards my head. I put my hand up to stop it from hitting me, and in the process tapped my temple lightly with my hand. And when I did THAT, a contact lens popped out of my eye and landed neatly on a student's notebook.

I stared down and saw the lens sitting there, and said, greatly surprised,

"Is that MINE?"

The student was laughing so hard he couldn't answer. I noticed that one eye had gone blurry, and said, still surprised,

"It IS mine!"

I picked it up and held it in my fingers and stared at it, bewildered. Then I excused myself and went off to the ladies to wash it and put it back in.

It really was amazing. I have been wearing contact lenses for more than twenty years, and I've NEVER had one fall out before. Even when I was knocked unconscious by a truck my contact lenses stayed in. I must have tapped my head at just the right angle. It was MAGIC. I may have to practice. If I could do that at will I could gross out The Man whenever I wanted, or at least make him worry.

The students in that group were still laughing when I came back. I tried to find the 'teachable moment' in the incident, and failed. I was just glad they thought it was funny and were not revolted.

When I told a friend about it after work, she laughed, too, but perhaps just because I didn't do it to her.

"Good thing you don't have a glass eye," she said, and I thought about how cool a trick THAT would be. She also came out with another wonderful malapropism as we talked about eyes, although I don't suppose it was a real malapropism, because she knew it was wrong.

"I have... it's not stigmata, is it?" she said.

Her hands weren't bleeding, so I told her it was probably astigmatism.


Wiccachicky said...

You always have such interesting days! Makes my job seem incredibly boring. :)

I had one student I disliked as much as the one you're talking about - but it was more because he was a complete and total liar. He would parrot back everything I said in a mocking sort of way, which he clearly did to cover up his basic lack of intelligence. At least he didn't hit on me. I'm not sure what I would have done with that!! I did have a student take his pants off in class a couple semesters ago. He was a real doozy.

Wendy said...

Ooh..stinky summer it's almost bearable as I can open the windows. But now, with winter raging fullforce and central heating up high, I want to puke in some of my classes. They think that by blasting on half a can of 'eau de parfum pour hommes' they can mask their BO...I wish someone would tell the French what water and soap are for. (Statistcally, the French have the lowest 'toilet soap' sales in Western Europe.)