aWhat else? So besides the harrowing brush with death, something else happened that I thought could only happen once. I was late, again. For the girl who's never been late in her life, I was going to set a record by being late TWICE in the country that SHAMES tardiness. The first time was totally the fault of the person who wrote the directions...but the second time was probably my fault. On my very second day of teaching, I was supposed to have an early meeting before my classes. I totally forgot about said meeting. I woke up, made breakfast, and began to eat when I got a call from my supervisor.
She was like, "Where are you?" and I replied something to the effect of, "just finished eating?"
"What? Did you forget?"
"Forget what?" I said, baffled.
"The meeting. The meeting we're having right now."
Instant, insane, and complete panic. I must have thrown on clothes faster than a magician. I tossed everything in my bag and practically ran. I looked at the time. By the time I was going to make it to the meeting, it would be half over. I sighed and felt immediate resignation. Maybe it would be better if I just showed up early for my classes (to be fair, I had to show up at least 2 hours before as per the Peppy Kids Club policy, but I was always earlier than that). I was at the station, when I got another call.
"Where are you now?"
"At the station."
"Going to my classes..."
"You need to be here. Now."
"I don't know how to get there..."
At this point, she passes the phone off to another teacher whom I haven't met because she can't deal with me. I get specific instructions on how to take the bus to the school. I first have to find said bus, because it's on the other side of the station. I get on the bus, but don't know what to do since this bus is different. The bus driver glared down at me from his perch and practically ripped the ticket out of the machine to hand to me. I muttered the destination, and he just said, "Hai". My stop came and went, I tried to get him to stop just after but he adamantly refused and told me to sit down. I sat down and waited for the bus to reach it's final stop. When I was getting off, I put the money and ticket in just like I did in Nagoya - expecting change in return. However, buses in Utsunomiya have a separate change machine for this purpose. I did not know that. The moment it happened, it triggered the bus driver into an unquenchable rage. He told me what I did wrong in Japanese and I shyly muttered, "Wakarimasen?" meaning, "I don't understand". He then proceeded to yell at me in a mocking tone, "Wakarimasen!? Wakarimasen!!!" The next sentences that followed were slurs against gaijins, I understood that much. I had never been so humiliated and hurt in public. He yelled at me to get off the bus and I did. I then had to run back to the previous stop as I choked back tears. When I finally arrived at the school, I took the wrong entrance (despite the instructions saying the contrary), and found nothing but hostility. The supervisor and my fellow teachers were cold. She took every opportunity to either ignore me, or belittle me. In fact, she soured every opportunity I had at a friendship in that circle. And every subsequent meeting she would remark on how I was, "finally on time" and "not like that other time when I was incredibly late".
When the awful, awful meeting ended, I found out there were no buses back at that time and I had classes to teach. I practically ran. Turned out, it was about a 45 minute walk. Ugh. When I finally made it back to the station, I saw some of my fellow teachers. They actually turned their backs on me and walked away. Then I noticed the station seemed very busy. I try to pay attention to the announcements before I finally take out my phone and find out all of the trains have been delayed to Utsunomiya. Now I was screwed again. I was going to be late to check in for my classes. I called head office and informed them the trains weren't running. They said just wait in the station and keep them informed. It took about an hour before the trains were back, and the train ride to school was about 45 minutes as well. I let head office know my situation, and they resignedly asked me to "try my best to be on time" and let me know it would still be considered my fault if I was late. Circumstances were apparently irrelevant. I spent the whole train ride prepping to run out of the doors when it stopped. And that's what I did. I practically flew by the man taking tickets, although he seemed unfazed - perhaps even found it amusing. I literally made it to the school within a minute of my deadline. I raced to the phone and called in. Head office was mildly impressed, and commented that I must have ran.
The next day was the earthquake. Truly, the week from hell.
Well, thank you so much for reading! If you like, I've made a gallery of photos from Nagoya! Ciao!
Everyday I do a little research and find events for that particular day. Sometimes it's a famous birthday or a bizarre holiday. Today it's a historical event. I learned about something that I didn't know before. I always appreciate learning. So I thought it would be a great idea to share it with my readers.
This day in history, December 6, 1917, Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) was shocked by something now known as the Halifax Explosion.
During the first world war, the Halifax Harbour was a crucial port for the Allies. Due to the success of German U-boat attacks, the Allies were forced to form convoys and used the Harbour as a starting point. The convoys would leave through the northwestern end of the Harbour which was guarded by anti-submarine nets and Royal Canadian Navy patrol ships.
In order to move between the Harbour and the basin, ships had to navigate something called "the Narrows". It was here that the Norwegian ship, Imo stubbornly refused to slow down or stop when they were met with warning signals from the French cargo ship, S S Mont-Blanc. This caused an inevitable collision, despite the Mont-Blanc's seasoned harbour pilot, Francis Makay. Unfortunately the Mont-Blanc was filled with munitions and the collision detonated a devastating explosion.
Smoke filled the air, rising over 6 100 metres (20 000 feet) and the explosion destroyed over 160 hectares (400 acres). The seismic force resulted in a 18 metre (60 foot) tsunami. Every building within 26 kilometres (16 miles) was destroyed or damaged while 1 600 people were immediately killed and 9 000 injured.
The resulting damages were worth about $35 million in 1917 but when adjusted for inflation, the damages would be over $531 million today.
The loss of life was horrific and what's worse, the relief efforts were not equally distributed. The black community known as Africville was heavily damaged but ignored by relief funds and reconstruction.
Death, destruction and on top of all that, racism. I wish I could say times have changed and this sort of behaviour is a thing of the past but unfortunately I can't.
Following the devastation of hurricane Katrina in 2005, I think it's obvious that the government was ignoring the citizens of New Orleans. Yet when New York was hit with hurricane Sandy, there was no end to the preparations and funds funneled into protecting the wealthy and white. I hope that people will realize sooner rather than later, that all lives are equal.
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