Being Forgotten

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As foreign assistant teachers here, we are sometimes pampered and sometimes totally neglected. Lunch often falls in the neglect category. I order the school lunches to be as much like everyone else as possible; however, there are days when no school lunch is served. On these days all of the teachers order up bento lunches. I had been totally overlooked in the past, but wrote about finally being notified ahead of time about the lack of school lunch in November 2006. That was a landmark day where I started to wonder if I was “in the club”.

Well, today was a little less landmarky. This is the last week of classes for first term. All of the students get sent home before lunchtime, so there is no school lunch service. Now that I am teaching at different schools every day, I had to stay on my toes and be proactive about protecting my waistline. I can read almost all the notes on the informational chalkboards at the schools now, so I noted when lunch service stopped and, at each school, asked what they would be doing about that. When they told me they were ordering up bento lunches, I requested that they order food for me too. Each time I did this I made note of it on my calendar for fear I would forget one.

Today, there was a big discussion about how to handle me at lunchtime. I heard someone say, “Well, Mr. So-and-so will be absent and Bikkuri can eat his lunch. I asked the responsible party and she insisted I had only discussed the possibility of ordering a lunch. I would have leaned on her a bit, but since I knew a meal was forthcoming, I didn’t care that we had just gotten lucky. After my classes were finished, I called tomorrow’s school to verify that they would have a lunch for me. Not taking any chances after today.

I feel sorry for the teachers who can’t read and speak Japanese. I imagine some of them must get stung by this. On the 30th we will be running a seminar for teachers. Half of the time is to be spent on “how to work well with your ALT”. I think we’ll talk a little about watching their backs.

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