Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another first day

Yesterday I had three new classes. I think they'll go well, aside from the everlasting student who I've already failed before. I think she's in her seventh year. She has a very hard time staying awake or attending class.

When I went back into the teachers' room after that class, I was chatting with some of the Japanese teachers. They asked me how my class went, and I told them about the everlasting student, naming her. Every teacher in the room started and looked up, horror written all over their faces.

"Her!" said one, and didn't need to say another word. We all knew what she meant.

I intend to treat the everlasting student as though this is a new beginning and as if she has never fallen asleep in my class before. At least I will from next week. Yesterday I went around chatting with each student and when I got to her she smiled pathetically at me and I couldn't resist asking if she was sleepy. That was naughty of me, but she was in one of my courses a few years ago and the only time I ever saw her awake was in the first class. After that she would stagger in at least half an hour late, apologize, sit down, and fall asleep so fast her head would hit the desk with an audible thud. The reason she gave for being so tired, when I asked, turned out to be that she watched TV until four or five in the morning. After five or six weeks she stopped coming to class altogether.

Word is, she is going to graduate, NO MATTER WHAT.

At lunchtime I was chatting with a foreign colleague and she told me that over the vacation she had read back over my blog.

"I recognized myself in there," she said, and I gulped. What had I written? I couldn't remember.

"I never use real names," I said, defensively, and she answered sternly,

"And you shouldn't! You've written stuff in there that ... that ... !"

Words failed her, but I knew how to end the sentence. I've written stuff in here that could get me fired.

It turned out that she didn't mind what I'd written. It was true that her class had made her happy.

"I can't stand the ones who just sit there like dummies," she said. "I MUCH prefer a noisy class," and I knew exactly what she meant.

In between classes, Professor Hatayama (or whatever her name is), one of the full-timers, bustled in and told me excitedly that she wanted to talk to me about next year's schedule. We've only just started THIS year. I think she's still stuck in November, which is when she told me she had me down for a first period Wednesday class because I was such a WONDERFUL, DEDICATED teacher. The funny thing about this was that she told someone else first about how WONDERFUL and DEDICATED I was, and such a CHARMING person, while I was sitting right there, unrecognized. Introducing myself was tricky when she'd just been talking loudly about me as if she knew me. I had never met her before and she didn't know who I was. Perhaps I wasn't being charming enough.

That Wednesday first period class never materialized, and she seems to have forgotten about it. Several OTHER classes materialized, instead, and not from her.

I told her I had a class about to start so couldn't talk about next year's schedule right now, and she said, smilingly,

"Oh, of course. We'll talk later."

She waffled around the room patronisingly, chatting randomly with various teachers. It was like having a visit from a celebrity.

After classes finished, I hung around for a while sorting papers and preparing things for Wednesday, along with a few of the Japanese teachers. I asked one of the teachers how her spring vacation went.

"I crashed my car," she informed me, grinning broadly

My mouth dropped open. She had done that before, and had to get punctuation.

"Oh, it was just a small crash," she added, waving her hand airily. "I drove it into a wall."

She seemed to think it was terrifically good news.

"Was anybody hurt?" I asked.

"No," she said, still grinning. "It was a low wall, and I was parking and didn't see it."


"Wait! Listen!" she said, looking positively gleeful. "My car was old anyway, so I decided to buy a new car! The insurance paid something, so that was good. I drove my new car for the first time today, to work - and it's my birthday!" She chortled. "My birthday present to myself is a new car!"

"Happy birthday," I said, weakly.

Professor Hatayama bustled in again just after we'd congratulated our colleague on her crash and her birthday, and I waited expectantly for her to tell me her latest bit of misinformation. But instead she rushed around opening cupboards, opening the copy machine cover, checking in drawers and rubbish bins, and muttering and laughing and grimacing and giggling about how SILLY it was to lose her glasses, where did she leave them? After a few minutes of chaos as we all halfheartedly looked for and failed to find her glasses, she left again, still waffling on and giggling.

In the sudden silence after the door closed we all looked at each other. One of the more proper teachers converted a snort into a cough, and I stared at her. Was it possible that I was not the only one who thought the professor was mad? She looked back innocently. In fact everybody looked innocent. Too innocent.

"I thought she wanted to talk to me," I said, finally.

"Maybe she couldn't see you without her glasses," said the proper teacher, solemnly, and we all nodded wisely and went back to our work. But thought balloons appeared over all our heads at the same time:


It was a pretty good first day back.


kenju said...

Sounds like fun to me!

I heard on the radio today about the yellow dust from the Gobi Desert, which picks up dioxin and heavy metals on its trip to Japan. Do wear a mask the next time that happens!

Artistic Soul said...

Actually, this behavior is not all that surprising from an administrator. lol.