Thursday, April 12, 2007

Charged up

I've had a week of new classes, and unusually for me I hope the weather gets a little damper tomorrow. I hate humidity, but today it was so hideously dry I was getting shocks all day, which doesn't usually happen at the place I work on Thursdays and Fridays. The buildings are older and perhaps less conductive, or something, and I don't remember really having a problem there before at all. But I got a series of little shocks all day today - from the blackboard, the blackboard ledge, the doorknobs, and so on, and after work I went out to dinner with some colleagues at a nearby Indian restaurant and when I was paying shocked the Indian bloke speechless. REALLY speechless, I mean - he stared at the money in his hand, stared at me, stared at his hand, and couldn't speak for a couple of minutes. We just stood there, staring at each other. Finally he stammered,

"How ... how ... how did you DO that?" - like he thought I'd done it on purpose.

It was embarrassing, and funny, but also quite painful. I was so shocked myself that I answered like an idiot,

"Did you feel that?"

The answer was a resounding "YES!" He pointed accusingly at the end of his finger, and I knew how he felt. My own finger was still tingling.

But sometimes the other person doesn't feel it, so it wasn't a totally stupid question, and the answer was reassuring. You feel even more stupid when you hand over money and scream for apparently no reason at all. At least he knew why. (If I hadn't been shocked senseless myself I would have told him I HAD done it on purpose, and that it was a way of discouraging people from taking money from me.)

The other university yesterday was even worse, although at least there I've learned to expect it. At one point I was carefully NOT touching the blackboard (they're metal) when I was pointing to something a student was writing, because the time before I'd shrieked and jumped and embarrassed myself (and had to explain - my students there already all know static electricity even though half of them can't greet me in English yet). But even when I just pointed without touching the board a big spark jumped the gap. The very cool student who'd been writing was impressed enough to lose her cool. She stared, pointed, and whirled round and screamed at the rest of the class,

"DID YOU SEE THAT? DID YOU SEE THAT? DID YOU HEAR THAT?"

I'm sure it's all terrifically exciting for them, but my new students are finding me astonishing for all the wrong reasons. I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll be a little less charged up.

3 comments:

Radioactive Jam said...

"astonishing for all the wrong reasons" - hahahahaha!

Sorry. But that's just delightfully funny.

As for your not having that great line ready the restaurant guy - I understand. Always a little disappointing when the mind just isn't keeping up like it should.

Another possible answer, paraphrased from a tagline I read a few years ago (suitable if you're not squeamish about 'spiritual' matters): "I'm a minion of Satan, though my powers are largely ceremonial." You could always substitute 'Dark Lord' for a less inflammatory version.

Cheryl said...

Change your shoes and touch brick walls as often as possible.

Ouch - been there - good luck!

Pkchukiss said...

Gaijin Sensei, could you charge my mobile phone?