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Japanese Yankees

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 spring,
 flowers were blooming, birds singing, crows cawing.  The office windows
 had been opened to let the cool breeze in.  The  first and second year
 teachers and students were on vacation, along with kocho and kyoto
 sensei.   This left me with the third year teachers and the unrestrained
 cheerfulness that settles over a school whenever there's a break in
 routine, or the bosses leave.  But, it was still a typical day.  

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 he'd
 actually been using them.  And the weirdness continues...Because I sit with
 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 whiling
 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?!  There
 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 teachers had
 never even talked to me.  The others I talked to only briefly.  Including
 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 she
 doesn't understand English.  Huh?  He repeated that its JAPANESE time. 
 She again said, 'Eigo wo wakkanai!'.  This is standard fare when someone is
 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 teacher! 
 Don't call on me, don't call on me, I'm gonna flunk, oh no, I don't know the
 answer! "EIGO O WAKKANAI!!"'.  I often hear this little refrain follow
 me when I walk down the street.  This can often work to our advantage,
 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.  But its
 also quite annoying.  When I hear it floating behind me on the street I
 want to stop and say, "Hey, I don't care if you can't speak English!  I'm
 not your teacher!  What makes you think I'd even want to talk to you?" 
 I'd say it in Japanese of course.  Or German.  (If I spoke German.) 
 That'd show 'em.  But then, if I did speak German, I'd probably just tell
 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 my
 conversation ability.)  The sannen desks are right next to the office's
 sliding glass doors, by the way.  So there's some conversation, a nervous
 fidget, a 'wakkanai', when suddenly! What's that noise?  Oh, just the
 steady approach of a motor bike.  They should get their muffler fixed. 
 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 thought
 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 was
 stopped by an invisible barrier just outside the door.  'Ahh, I still have
 my inside shoes on!'.  I realized it must be serious since no one stopped to
 change shoes.  Whoever it was was now on the street in front of school,
 hidden from view by the wall and plants.  I could tell they were cruising
 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 one
 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, one pant
 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 I don't
 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?  Whatever he
 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 police.  

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 work
 and attract attention?  Tell him to slow down?  Poke him with a stick?  I
 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 back
 inside, much to my dismay.  Why sweep the floor if their just gonna track
 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 teacher). 
 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 roll a
 pant leg up.  I don't really have any begrudging respect though, for the
 insomniatic bike gang that lives on my street.



  Hey! What time is it in Japan?

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