Where’d the Oregonian go?

23 08 2010

This morning I woke up and it was grey outside. We’ve had a lot of grey days recently, so I assume it will warm up. At my junior high (where I was today), they are doing construction and rarely open the windows. I choose light clothes, to keep from overheating, while sitting in the stuffy staffroom. Once ready, I grab my bag, slip on my flip-flops and take off for school on my bike.

I have one class over the course of the day, so I spend my day trying to book a flight home, studying Japanese and chatting with friends.

As I walk to the second year room for lunch, I realize it’s pouring and decide my best course of action is to hope it will let up before 4:30, when I get to head home.

Slowly the minutes tick by. I am working on an email when 4:30 rolls around. I say goodbye to the friends I’m chatting with and the teachers who are actually in the staffroom at that time (many are out doing things with the students).

When I get to the genkan, where we change our shoes as we come in or out, I stand there for a minute, just stare at the rain, and laugh. I’m an Oregonian, I should have known better, right? Why did I think the rain would hold off as the weather forecast said? (Probably because it didn’t come at all this weekend).

As I’m standing there, Kanayama-san, our janitor walks up and asks if I have an umbrella. I shake my head no and mention that I have no jacket either, thinking still about how I should have known better. He smiles and hands me an umbrella. I ask if it’s ok and he says it is.

As I reach my hand into the box labeled with レベッカ (Rebecca), I remember that I wore flip-flops that morning. I slowly switch my shoes, thinking of how wet I’m about to get and head outside to realize this is going to be my first-ever umbrella bike ride.

By the time I get to the bike shelter across the parking lot, I’ve avoided a few puddles and watched a few students go running to or from the building in rain suits. “They were prepared,” I think.

The bike shelter surprises me, when I arrive, because it has a good inch of water or so on the ground that I have to wade through to get to my bike. Getting a bike out with one hand on an umbrella is much more complicated than I expect, but I get the bike out with minimal water on the seat and only slightly wet toes.

As I ride across the parking lot, I realize that it’s not as hard as I thought it would have been (especially considering I was trying to text and bike ride the other day). Holding the umbrella out in the wind, so that I can still see is the most difficult part.

Very quickly, I realize that hurrying home on my bike with the wind in my face and an umbrella in hand is a bad idea and will likely cause a gaijin-bicycle scramble (gaijin = foreigner). Thinking about how crazy this is and that I’d never have attempted it at home, I spend the whole ride home laughing. I begin laughing even harder when I realize that the umbrella helped me avoid a shower that included my head, but very much didn’t prevent the rest of my body from being soaked.


Laughter saves English Teacher from Imminent Doom

5 11 2009

(Ok, the title’s a bit dramatic, but it made me laugh when I thought of it, so I had to share)

This morning I was riding my bike to school. It was raining and I had forgotten to tighten down my hood. My face began to get wet, so I decided to attempt to hold my hood with one hand and hold the handlebars with the other. I was surprised at how well this worked. My coordination must be increasing with riding my bike every day. There’s no way I would have been able to do this before.

As I continue in the direction of work, I look up and another bicyclist is coming from the opposite direction, but on the same side of the road. He is holding his umbrella just a few inches in front of his face, making it impossible for him to see what is coming. I begin to giggle quietly because one would only see this in Japan. Or maybe just anywhere besides the Northwest (I think Washington people would grab a rain jacket too).

As I’m giggling to myself, I realize he can’t see me. This gets me laughing aloud. I don’t want to have to explain that I had an accident with another bicyclist when I’m late to work (which I totally would have been if we had collided) and I have no idea what to say in Japanese to get his attention. As I’m considering my options and realizing I should pull into the road, he swerves in the same direction.

My laugh gets even louder. He moves the umbrella and just as we get close enough to collide.

This whole situation makes me continue to giggle all the way to work. I have been told by so many people that I have a great laugh and that it stands out. What should save my life today? My laugh. I love the Lord’s sense of humor.

Kanayama Fall Colors