Archive for November, 2015
Since I have been living in Numazu, the bicycle that I have been borrowing from The Penpal has become an important way for me to get around town. As with any form of transportation, bicycles need occasional maintenance. In the past week I have been battling with one leaky tire, and in the past few days my other tire went flat. It was time to get some help.
I didn’t know where to begin, so I called The Penpal. She did some research for me, and found a small bike repair shop within about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. She also helped me practice the Japanese I would need to ask for bicycle repair.
I carefully walked my bike with its two flat tires to a small store named Adachi. If I didn’t know what I was looking for, I could have easily passed right by. Adachi is run by a very friendly looking older man. I greeted him in Japanese and told him that both of my tires were flat, and asked if he could please fix them. He brought over a small wooden stool so I could sit, and then he went to work on my bicycle.
Watching him work was a treat. This was someone who had obviously spent many years working on bicycles and motorcycles. Every movement was careful and deliberate, with the expertise that only years of experience can bring. I was reminded of the scene in Toy Story 2 where the expert is called in to fix Woody.
It turns out that there was a problem with a seal and / or the valve core (my language ability didn’t allow me to fully understand). After carefully replacing a few parts and inflating my tires everything looked as good as new. Not knowing what to expect for the repairs I had taken out quite a bit of cash, just to be safe. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the repair cost was only 500 yen (about $5). I thanked the man as politely as I could, and rode away smiling. It’s great to be back on my wheels again!
Between lessons today I decided that I needed a caffeine boost. Fortunately there is a bank of vending machines right across the street from Numazu NOVA. I didn’t have change, so I used a 1000 yen bill to buy a 100 yen can of coffee, and then rushed back to the teacher’s room to prepare for my next lesson.
It wasn’t until about two hours later when I realized that I forgot to take my change with me. I went out to check just in case, but my change was long gone.
My 1000 yen can of coffee was pretty good though.
Today is Remembrance Day. We must never forget or repeat the mistakes of the past.
Remembrance Day is meaningful to me as my family has a bit of a military history. My great grandfather on my father’s side was a combat veteran in World War 1. He lost his eye in combat just before the battle of Vimy Ridge. If he had not been injured, it is very possible he could have been killed in that terrible battle.
My grandfather was a drummer who entertained troops overseas in World War 2. That’s where he met my grandmother, who at the time was a seamstress sewing uniforms for Canadian soldiers.
My father joined the Canadian forces at age 16 to get away from a difficult home situation. His military service allowed him to complete high school and paid for his university education. He served as an Air Traffic Controller, and retired from the military after 27 years and has been doing the same job as a civilian ever since.
I am the first person in this lineage with no military connection at all. I am proud of the service that my father, grandfather, grandmother, and great grandfather provided. However I am more proud of the fact that in my lifetime there has never been a situation where I have needed to join any military service myself. I hope to never see a day like that, especially in my home country of Canada or my second home in Japan.
I’m not exactly sure why, but I was really stressed out today. Like one of those situations where stress is squeezing your brain and lying on top of you like a weight on your chest.
Fortunately living in Japan there is a good remedy for this: after work I enjoyed some beer and friend stuff on sticks. Yum!
In the English conversation teaching world, an open lesson is when you either have no students scheduled or none of the students show up. This leaves the teacher free to catch up on files or other office tasks.
An open lesson at the end of the day before my weekend is particularly good.
I was feeling awful yesterday and stayed home from work. I was feeling slightly less awful today and went to work. Despite not being at my best, I still tried to give fun lessons to my students. Most days I genuinely enjoy teaching, and I want the students to feel like they are getting something for their money and time.
This morning I was feeling awful. I tried to get moving but realized that there was no way I was going to work.
NOVA has a phone number to call when you are unable to attend work. If you call before a certain time, there are supposed to be no repercussions for you, other than a day of missed pay. The cutoff time allows NOVA to find a replacement teacher and adjust the schedule accordingly.
Usually calling into the sick number is a short conversation “Hi I am x from branch y. I am sick and can’t go to work today”. They take the info, ask if you need any additional assistance, and the call is over in 30 seconds. Today they made a point of letting me know that it was a national holiday, which would mean a very busy day at the branch. I don’t know if they were trying to make me feel bad about calling in sick, trying to see if I was faking, or just expressing frustration at trying to replace a teacher on a busy day. Regardless, there was no was I was going to work.
Today The Penpal asked me if I would like to be Santa Claus at an upcoming Yamaha English School Christmas party. How can I say no to that?
The Penpal used to work for Yamaha English School, which uses mostly Japanese teachers to teach English to children. She is still friends with a lot of her old coworkers, so they asked her if I could help. It should be a lot of fun!
Now I just need to gain about 100 pounds in a month and grow a beard…