This is a post that existed in an idea in my head, but never made it to my blog 10 years ago.
In my 3 years in Japan, I have had a few different work schedules. The one constant in that whole time was the late Saturday shift.
Like most service businesses, conversational English schools in Japan adjust their teacher schedules to meet student demands. This means that evening shifts are more common on weekdays, and morning / afternoon shifts are much more common on weekends. As an example, Kawasaki NOVA could have 12-15 teachers on during a Saturday morning shift (10:00am – 5:40pm), but only 4-5 for the evening shift (1:00pm to 9:00pm). Smaller schools like Numazu and Mishima would usually have 1 or 2 teachers on the Saturday late shift.
I spent my entire time in Japan on the Saturday late shift. This has allowed me to work with a variety of different people who also had the misfortune to be stuck at work when all of the other teachers were out having fun.
In Kawasaki I worked late Saturday shifts with a group of people including Anzac, who was always good for some teaching advice and beer after work. At Mishima I worked with Veronica, who was about 20-30 years older than the other teachers and had absolute control over any NOVA kids class.
After Veronica, I worked with the asshole who quit by fax. Even though he was an asshole, he was at least occasionally interesting. He was a speed chess master who coded instant messaging apps in his free time.
For a short time I spent Saturday evenings with Charlie, who didn’t last very long in Japan. I think she had a crush on me most of the time, and kept giving me hypothetical situations about wanting to kiss a guy who didn’t know she liked him. I did my best to mention my girlfriend regularly, but she never really got the hint. It was awkward.
Out of all of my Saturday evening partners, my favourite was Vivian. She was fun, outgoing, and just generally easy to get along with and talk to. She was always getting out and having some crazy adventures, and her personality went a long way towards making work fun.
After a few Saturdays together we started calling ourselves “FabSat”, because we were Fab and worked Saturdays. Fun fact: it’s hard for a Canadian to pull off the word “Fab”. We would show up late to the Saturday evening activities with other teachers, catch up on our drinks quickly, and yell “FABSAT” at each other while high fiving.
One of the cool things about being an English teacher in Japan is that you get to meet and interact with a bunch of people that you wouldn’t otherwise talk to. I also learned the importance of good coworkers; they make the difference between simply working and actually enjoying your job.