The day started out pretty quiet. The director
had finally decided to let
some sunshine into our concrete dome of a studio sky. It was early
flowers were blooming, birds singing, crows cawing. The office
had been opened to let the cool breeze in. The first and
teachers and students were on vacation, along with kocho and kyoto
sensei. This left me with the third year teachers and the
cheerfulness that settles over a school whenever there's a break in
routine, or the bosses leave. But, it was still a typical
Or so I thought....
My stuffed shirt JTE had lately been showing
uncharacteristic signs of
affability. He'd not only been asking for my input and ideas, but
actually been using them. And the weirdness continues...Because I
the second year teachers, next to kyoto sensei's desk, I am on the other
side of the office from said third year teachers. I was quietly
away the time staring at the Japanese book on my desk, when suddenly,
stick-up-my-youknowhere sensei invited me to sit with the third year
teachers and practice conversation! What? Who? Where? Me?!
was a niggling suspicion in the back of my head that he was using the same
strange over cheerful attitude he uses on his comatose students, but since
its irrelevant to the story, I won't go into it. Some of these
never even talked to me. The others I talked to only briefly.
said JTE who's always busy in his own hypertension bubble. So I sat
down at an empty desk, and he announced that it was Japanese
conversation time. The teacher next to me promptly announced that
doesn't understand English. Huh? He repeated that its JAPANESE
She again said, 'Eigo wo wakkanai!'. This is standard fare when
nervous about talking to the foreigner. I think its some twisted
byproduct of JET and the eikaiwa schools. Japanese people now have a
pavlovian response when they see foreigners, 'Oh no! An English
Don't call on me, don't call on me, I'm gonna flunk, oh no, I don't know
answer! "EIGO O WAKKANAI!!"'. I often hear this little
me when I walk down the street. This can often work to our
door to door sales people often apologize and leave upon seeing a foreign
face, and replying in English will often scare off the braver ones.
also quite annoying. When I hear it floating behind me on the street
want to stop and say, "Hey, I don't care if you can't speak
not your teacher! What makes you think I'd even want to talk to
I'd say it in Japanese of course. Or German. (If I spoke
That'd show 'em. But then, if I did speak German, I'd probably just
them, 'Hey, I don't speak English either! nice to meet you!'
I am getting way off the story line here.
So I am sitting there, busting out a meager
conversation with the sannen
teachers. (Meager not because of my Japanese ability, but because of
conversation ability.) The sannen desks are right next to the
sliding glass doors, by the way. So there's some conversation, a
fidget, a 'wakkanai', when suddenly! What's that noise? Oh, just the
steady approach of a motor bike. They should get their muffler
Being that my town has its own local 'bike' gang, one of whom goes to work
at 6:50 every morning. ( I could set my clock by this guy) I
nothing of the bike's roar, or the doom da doom music playing in the
With an agility I've never seen before, four teachers
jumped up and ran
outside. I got up to follow and see what the fuss was about, but I
stopped by an invisible barrier just outside the door. 'Ahh, I still
my inside shoes on!'. I realized it must be serious since no one
change shoes. Whoever it was was now on the street in front of
hidden from view by the wall and plants. I could tell they were
back and forth, moving with what I'd guess is the speed of a large
demented white shark hunting for prey. I stood on the doorstep with
other teacher, straining to catch a glimpse. Three teachers had
disappeared beyond the wall, and one had called the cops. But
then, it got
closer, and closer, until...OOOH! No! What's he doing?!! He's in the
school's drive!! And..And.. He's driving really really..SLOW!!
Its so so
LOUD!! Look at that scooter! And those clothes! Who is it?
What is it?!
He's a, a, YANKEE BOY!!
OH! A YANKEE BOY! A yankee boy? huh? I had
no idea what a yankee
boy was, but there he was, in all his glory. A clean little scooter,
leg rolled up, helmet securely fastened, and the ramrod straight posture
of a Texas beauty queen.
What exactly is a Yankee boy? A social misfit,
punk kid? A rebel? Is
he subversively challenging the system through noise pollution and safe
driving? Heck if I know. I suppose he'd count as a rebel, but
know how rebellious one can be if he's just like every other yankee boy in
Japan. And, where'd they come up with that name anyway?
was trying to do, he apparently succeeded. The teachers were pissed,
their inside shoes exposed to the elements, our calm was disrupted, noise
was spewed and he took off just in time to avoid the
I wonder what the teachers thought they could do when
they ran into the
street. Yell futilely at someone whose main goal was to disrupt our
and attract attention? Tell him to slow down? Poke him with a
suppose the police could have cited him for a noise disturbance or
whatnot, maybe ticket him for driving under the speed limit, or tell him
sternly to cut his hair.
One teacher asked me if we had Yankee boys in
America. Well...we have
a baseball team full of Yankees, does that count?
The Yankee boy was soon gone and we returned to our
quiet day and
conversation. The teachers unreservedly tracked their soiled shoes
inside, much to my dismay. Why sweep the floor if their just gonna
it all up again? sheesh. Over coffee everyone grumbled
about what a
jerk and an idiot he was. (the yankee boy, not the dirty shoed
My already good mood became that much better. I must admit I found
the whole think quite entertaining. I also have to admit that as an
American yankee myself, I have a begrudging respect for any rebels in
this strict structured society. Even those who drive really slow and
pant leg up. I don't really have any begrudging respect though, for
insomniatic bike gang that lives on my street.