Taking Friday Off

Yes, that is right, I am going to take Friday off. Due to the will of the Nen-kyu gods I have been left with nearly more vacation time than I have school time. And, God forbid, I leave any of that precious paid-vacation time unused! (That would just be wasteful) So I am taking Friday off. I mention this because I recall a time in the not so distant past when I didn't have copious amounts of vacation time. Nay, I had to use alternate means to acquire time outside of school. These means go by many aname, but they all surround the grand experience of "the sick day."

Now, what does it mean "to be sick?" It is more of an existential question to be answered by a philosopher, rather than humble workers such as ourselves. But, no, not here in Japan. Here in Japan it is thankfully left to the ALTs to determine their own sicknesses. But, as always, a little background...

Now, at some point in your ALT career you may have a Japanese teacher that comes to you and complains to you about the time that you have taken off of school. Take no heed of these people because they are just jealous. Japanese teachers don't have sick days. Yes, that is correct. But what they do get is 40 days of paid vacation every year. Imagine that; they get 40 days paid vacation, we get 20 days (sometimes 12) paid vacation and 20 days of sick leave (sometimes only with a doctor's note). But then they counter with, "Well, Japanese teachers never use all their vacation time." This strikes me as the stupidest retort ever used when trying to make a valid point in an argument. Its like saying, "Well, I never use the X key on the key board" when having a conversation about the weather. And thus I am forced to ask the questions: Are you allowed to use your vacation time? Yes. Can they fire you for using all your vacation time? No. Can you use your vacations when you don't have class and won't have to burden other teachers? Yes. Can you use your vacations over the summer? Yes. Then why no use that shit? Because no one else does. (Yes, I am aware that some people have career advancement in mind with their jobs, but still a little "away time" is good for the soul.)

Regardless, you always run into those supervisors that seemingly can't understand the logic of you using sick leave for sickness when all the rest of the teachers use paid vacation. They know about the 40day/20day differential. They know that we are here to internationalize and that this sometimes places us in situations adverse to our health (copious amounts of alcohol included, BTW). They know that we are like a walking, one-man, gaijin parade that everyone wants to take a peek at, or gaze at, or stare at, or actively ignore. They know all of that, and still they make it hard to call in for a sick day.

That's cool here is your answer: Geri.

Yes, that's right Geri. Diarrhea. Oh, yeah, it's your friend now. Live it. Love it. Embrace it. The beautiful thing is that you can get diarrhea from just about anything and they can't say shit about it. Drinking. Eating. Stress. Flu. Watching a really bad movie. Went out drinking the night before but you can't say that? Geri ga ittai. --It hurts-- Can't handle the stress of the teacher room this week? Geri ga taihen. --Its been difficult.-- Feeling like it is just a little too cold outside to deal with no heaters in the classroom? Keiko naigai jikan ha geri ga arimashita. --Had it for a while.-- The second that the word escapes your mouth, bam, they don't want to be on the phone with you anymore. It's like they believe that the diarrhea can transfer itself through the phone line and get them. You will never have a shorter telephone conversation. And, also, there is a high possibility that the next time you call in sick you won't have to say anything at all for fear of the getti. But say you have to go to the doctor... that's fine. Just walk in holding your stomach and say: Geri ga ippai --I am full of it--. You will be helped immediately and sent on your way. It may not be pretty, it may not be artistic, but it sure is effective.

Of course, all of this is simply conjecture and nothing more.