Before I leave home for work, I fill my pockets (pants and jacket) with all the essentials: my lighter (actually three lighters cuz I always lose them or they die when I need them most), my wallet, my keys, my cellphone, some change, a box of Black and Mild cigars, and my USB memory stick.
On this stick I have all of my lesson plans and other materials I use for teaching. I also keep notes or essays / stories I’ve begun but lost the incentive to complete for whatever reason. Occasionally I’ll review them to see if they merit completion. Sometimes they do. Sometimes only part of it does and the rest of it is for shit. Sometimes the whole thing is better left in limbo. I back the stick up periodically, syncing it with my PC at home and the PCs at both my schools, but not as regularly as I should.
Friday, however, I ran into a snag. My memory stick was MIA. This happens occasionally and I usually find it the next day strangely right in the place where it ought to have been during the initial search, like some poltergeist was fucking with me. I strip searched my room for a solid ten minutes. That’s all the time I had, though. I had a bus to catch and if I missed it I’d have to run to get to work on time. And, I hate to run to work. The search produced nothing except that lighter I’d been looking for off and on for a week.
I had lessons to plan. I tried to recall when was the last time I backed it up. Two months? Last semester? Ever? Shit! It had been a minute. I wondered if I’d left the stick at the office. I had used it the previously day to make some lessons so there was an off-chance. I’m usually pretty careful with that, though, because some of my writing is not exactly the kind of stuff my co-workers would get all “sugoi” (wow, this is wonderful!) over. Quite the contrary. And I presume nothing about any of them anymore. Especially who knows English and who doesn’t. I’ve been thrown for a loop by a co-worker suddenly breaking into English better than the English teacher’s enough times to know that you never fucking know. They are all professional educators meaning they are all schooled and some very well schooled.
But, I wasn’t worried. I was just a little concerned.
When I arrived at the school at 8:15, 15 minutes before the morning meeting was to begin, I had some time so I gave the computer area I had worked in the day before what I thought to be an inconspicuous once over.
It wasn’t inconspicuous enough, though.
“Lose something?” It was the computer tech teacher, Ozawa-sensei. He had been watching me casually glancing behind the PC’s monitor. I felt like a Espionage School reject.
“Ummm…kinda. I think I might have left my memory stick here on friday…” I said in Japanese. He knows no English (At least I don’t think so.)
“Doko? Koko?” (Where? Here?)
Oh oh! I heard it in his voice and I’d seen this phenomenon before. I cursed myself for saying anything about the stick, but now it was done and I just had to ride it out.
Ozawa sensei got down on his hands and knees and practically crawled under the computer desk. “Maybe it fell under here…” I heard his voice, slightly muffled through the mask he always wears, suggest.
“Please, no, it’s not necessary for you to…” I was saying when he popped up from under the desk with dust balls in his hair and on his suit, and a memory stick in his hand. It was one of those grey memory sticks that are available to teachers and are in abundant supply in the supply cabinet.
“Atta! Kore ha?” (Found it! Is this it?)
“Chigau desu ne. Ore no stiiku ga kuroi desu.” (My stick is black.)
“Kuroi ka? (Black eh?)
Yoshida sensei must have spied what was going on and came over to offer her assistance. Any time I speak to a teacher other than an English teacher she feels the need to come over and translate everything being said…she’s just being nice I know, but it really gets annoying sometimes…especially when I understand what the other person is saying. And it sends a message to the other teachers that speaking to me is something that could be done with less instances of confusion if she is present. It handicaps me in the eyes of others. I guess in the same way a blind person who has no love for dogs feels having to smell a dog’s ass all day. I’ve told her she didn’t need to do that all the time, but I bet that blind man probably tells his dog to stop farting, too. It’s not like I told her she needn’t be kind to people, but she’d responded like I had. So, I just let it go. And she just keeps doing it.
Ozawa sensei welcomed her assistance.
“Ah, good morning, Yoshida sensei! We have a problem here, it seems. Loco sensei was a bit careless with his USB and may have forgotten it in this area yesterday when he left the office…” Ozawa said.
“Oh I see!” she said to Ozawa. Then to me, “Did you ummm misplace your USB stick?”
I looked at them for a hot moment before surrendering to what I’d learned I had no way of stopping. “I might have,” I said. “It’s a possibility.”
She smiled that eerie plastic nervous “please don’t kill me” smile of hers and turned to Ozawa, who was waiting, a little impatiently, for the translation. It was almost meeting time after all.
“He says maybe he did, but he’s not sure.”
“I see,” Ozawa said thoughtfully. “Well, I’ll mention it in the morning meeting and see if any of the other teachers have seen it…”
Oh God, no! But, this train was leaving the station. The chime was chiming and the teachers were standing.
The principal and the vice principal were at the front desk watching the three of us at the computer station. We all hustled to our respective seats. A moment of silence passed before the vice principal said, “Ohayou gozaimasu!”
And everyone bowed and replied almost in unison,”Ohayou gozaimasu” and took our seats.
The morning meeting is a pretty formal affair where all the issues of the day that affect all teachers are discussed in brief. Then the meeting breaks up into three meetings; one for each grade: 1st, 2nd and 3rd year teachers. The scheduler opens the general meeting by making all of the announcements. Then he opens the floor to remarks or announcements from anyone who cares to make any. I sat there hoping he wouldn’t say anything but when I heard the scheduler say “Hoka wa?” (Any others?) and I heard Ozawa say “Hai!” I just closed my eyes.
“Loco Sensei has misplaced his memory stick. He was using it in the computer area yesterday. It is not a standard USB used by the teachers. It is his own personal USB, and it’s black. Does anyone have any information as to its whereabouts?”
I plastered a smile on my face, lifted my head and looked around at all the worried faces looking at me. No one had seen it.
“Well, if anyone should come across it, please forward it to Loco-sensei. He is a little distressed over it so please let’s help him out, shall we? That’s all I have.”
Some other teachers spoke but I wasn’t listening anymore. When the meeting ended a couple teachers stopped by my desk.
“I’m so sorry to hear about your memory stick Loco Sensei…I hope you find it.”
“Thank you Suzuki sensei. Thank you so much,” I replied with the appropriate amount of appreciation and concern on my face. At least I think I did. I just tried to make the face I see people make in this situation. A situation where you are responsible for causing people to break with the routine of their lives to do something for your benefit.
Some teachers saw this as an opportunity to show how much they really liked me but were too afraid over the course of the past three years working in the same building as I to ever say so. Teachers who hadn’t really said anything but the most compulsory stuff were now espousing words of encouragement.
“Keep your head up, Loco-sensei,” said Sakura sensei. I actually thought she was a little off or something. She works with the Special Ed kids and sits at her desk mumbling to herself, so I thought the Japanese had gotten really progressive and started hiring under the guidelines of it takes one to know one. Or, in this case, to teach a dozen.
“It’ll surface…they always do. Don’t worry!” cried Yamate-sensei through a mask of pain.
This went on all day.
That night when I got home, yappari, the memory stick was on my desk next to my computer where I always keep it.
Fucking poltergeist, I swear!
PS: Just in case you were wondering: to make a “Federal Case” out of something is to exaggerate the importance of or make an issue out of something trivial.
PPS: Ummm…if you read / follow my blog, why don’t you go to my networkedblogs page here and click “follow.” (and rate me…I like 5 stars but I’ll take what you got) It’ll help me build up my readership and whatnot. Also you can catch my tweets at Locohama.