With the Blog reboot this story won’t be happening for a while. So this is now a quick preview of upcoming content:
This happened in mid 2005 when I was teaching English in Mishima, Japan. On this particular day, a new teacher was starting. Let’s call him “Dom” from England. Dom didn’t know it at the time, but he was in for quite the first day of work.
We were in the office awaiting him to show up for his first shift. When he didn’t show up right away, I started to get a little concerned because you generally need a lot more time in your first week to get ready for lessons. Mhairi told me not to worry, she had given him good directions on how to get on the train, which way to go, and to leave the North exit of Mishima station. Unforunately for her, the school was on the South side of the train station. I took off towards the station, passed through to the North side and started looking for a lost foreigner. At the same time I was heading North, Dom had figured out his mistake and went South, passing me, and went to the school. I got a call and managed to get back in time for my lesson, sweating and out of breath.
Dom and I had the same dinner break, so I took him to the awesome noodle shop across the street from work. Having been in the country for about a year and a half at the time, I was quite good at using chopsticks to eat a bowl of steaming hot noodles and forgot that there were some people who might find this challenging. Dom somehow managed to eat about half of his soup, sharing generously with his tie.
When the other teachers showed up for the evening lessons I found out that there was going to be a big student party in the evening. Thinking that this would be a good opportunity to celebrate a new teacher arriving, I told Dom the details, leaving out the part that there would be a lot of students in attendance. Hanging out with students outside of the classroom was not allowed and could lead to anything from a reprimand to termination. After work we took the train to Fuji station and I filled him in on the way to the karaoke place.
Karaoke was a total gong show. For those who don’t know, karaoke in Japan is usually all you can drink. There were about 20 people in the room and we were all making good use of the drink ordering phone.
One of the fun things to do when you are young and drunk in Japan is room hopping. The idea is that you grab a beer and start visiting the other rooms. The best way is to just open the door, yell “KANPAI” and then see if anyone will clink your beer. Sometimes you get a good response, sometimes you get politely shooed out the door. Mhairi, Dom and I made the rounds. We always sent Mhairi in first because very few people will turn away a hot blond Scottish girl. The last room we came to was the exception to the rule. The women ignored Mhairi and literally dragged Dom and I into the room. The (less than impressed) Japanese guys went out into the hall to talk to Mhairi. One of the ladies started talking to me in rapid fire drunken Japanese, of which I understood about 40% of. She slowed down and asked me how old I thought she was. This is a fantastically dangerous question at the best of times. I figured mid to late 30s, so I said 28. This was apparently the correct answer. She leaned in and whispered in my ear that her son was 18 and her daughter was 15. I tried to recover from my shock by telling her that I didn’t have any kids. She asked if I was married, I said no, and then she jammed the microphone in my hand and made me sing. While I was singing she wrote down her phone number and jammed it in my shirt pocket.
I looked over to see how Dom was dealing with all of this, only to notice that his woman had very busy hands and decided to put her phone number in his front pants pocket. After forcing him to sing Abba we eventually found a way to escape the room and rejoin the other group.
The rest of the night was mostly incident free. I don’t know how Dom could have had a more eventful first day of work. For me, it was one of the last times I ever went room hopping. And for the record, no, I did not call the lady.