When in Rome? [Episode 2]

In today’s episode lets take a look at some social behaviors.

It’s common practice in the U.S. that when first arrive at work you are given a few minutes to settle in. However, that is not the case here in Japan. For one, the teachers room consists of over 80 desks lined up in rows and packed in like sardines. Check out this picture of our teachers room from the back.


In the U.S., I had my own classroom where I could go and prepare for my school day in silence. Work my way up to being social. If I road my bike, which I did often and still do, I’d have time to calm down, wipe my sweat, have a sip or two of water, and change my clothes if necessary. But here in Japan, that doesn’t fly. It doesn’t matter how early you come to work. The moment, and this is not an exaggeration, THE MOMENT you enter the teachers room the wolves descend. Some days I really do feel like prey. One or two of these wolves will pounce as soon as you sit your bag down on your desk.

There really is no such thing as “easing into it” here. I don’t think I will ever be used to this. But I try, as hard as possible, to fix my face and answer their questions, edit English, and confirm meetings with out being rude by flinging my sweat at them. For a time I tried showing up “on time” instead of early in hopes of negating this but that just left me open to multiple attacks well before schedule. I’ve tried hanging out in the women’s locker room, making phone calls, sitting in the classroom that I use, walking up the school driveway slowly, walking up the school driveway quickly, and hiding in the bathroom, all to no effect.

How do you operate? Are you of the mindset that the minute you walk into the building your work day begins? OR are you an “ease into it” type of worker? Are you the eager beaver, excited to start working imediately? Or the slow starter?


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