I am an English teacher for a small conversation school in Tokyo, and normally I don't do daylogs, but this one is for HateQuest 2006. Also, i hate capitalization, so i'm going to skip it for this one. voters, do your worst.
as much as i've said to friends about my job being the easiest thing in the whole world i still take some pride in it. i may not know all those fancy-schmancy words your mom taught you like "subjunctive" and "verb clause" and "cantaloupe," but i can speak english pretty damned well and in my lessons, by god, i work it. i'm teaching english after all, and i might as well demonstrate a certain knowledge of it so that my students can emulate me.
unfortunately, this is not a feeling i share with all of my co-workers.
the partitions at my company end about two feet from the ceiling, so when things in my cubicle are quiet i can hear what's going on in the cubes around me. and sometimes, even when things aren't so quiet, i can hear mike. (his real name, and oh i hope someday he finds this and reads it.) mike is loud. mike is from los angeles. mike studied film at ucla, which (he has loudly claimed from his cell next to mine) has one of the best film schools in the nation. i haven't bothered to check this out; i just tacitly accept that he's lying, the loud, self-aggrandizing bastard. mike has worked (as an intern, he admitted to one questioning student) at pixar, mike doesn't like roppongi, mike thinks that very soon the IT industry will give in to the broadcasting industry and media conglomerates will take over the internet.
it is not these facts and opinions that piss me off so much. (although the one about the internet is kind of annoying, especially since his reasoning for this belief is that people don't like to have choices, that people prefer to be told what they can do and when, and that people also like commercials... oh, and that the main interest of everyone in the IT industry is money, which, seriously, hasn't he ever heard of linux?) it isn't even the fact that he's so loud. it's that he speaks in the most fragmented, moronic english i have ever heard coming from a teacher's mouth.
"where... you go... in tokyo?" one of his students asked the other day. inwardly, i cringed, awaiting his response. i tried to focus on the book in my lap, but his voice was like the scent of rotten fish in a bakery. "i go ebisu. don't like... rop-pon-gi." oh god, i thought. oh god oh god oh god please someone turn the music up i don't care that it's def leppard just turn it up please jesus-- "most of time, though, make mov-ie. an-i-ma-tion? you like... an-i-ma-tion?"
mike talks non-stop to his students about this twelve-minute long animation that he made over the past three years. so far, from what i can tell, he's only suckered one of his students into watching it on his laptop, which he brings into school with him every day and uses to listen to music between lessons. i do not care very much about the music or the fact that he brings the laptop in. and i don't care about the fact that he talks all the time about his animated short. what i care about is that he omits nearly every particle-- articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and others (are there others?)-- when he is talking about it. he often uses the present tense to speak about the past or the future, and in many cases his statements or questions will consist of one word, the 'sentence' type denoted only by inflection. he even omits the 's' at the end of plural words and verb conjugations.
i didn't suspect him of such villainy at first. no, i thought he seemed like a decent guy (if a little bit of an egoist/misogynist-- one of the first sentences out of his mouth was "i've almost had enough of these japanese girls, it's time for me to go back to cali and sell my movie." i think i may have hurt him when i didn't ask him anything more about this 'movie'). after three days of working next to him, though, i began to harbor fantasies of unmasking him for the slacking verbalizer he is. i imagined standing on a chair, poking my head over the partition and saying "hey, mike, don't you mean 'most of the time?' 'most of time' is incorrect, and i really think that you should speak english properly if you're going to teach it. oh, and you're talking about computers, not about 'com-pu-ter.'" then i realized that if his students put up with his awful language they probably wouldn't understand my critique.
next i began to dream about getting him fired. i would call my boss and say "hey, how's it going, do you remember hiring mike? yeah, well, his english is absolutely terrible. no, not when he's talking to me, but when he's talking to his students he sounds like a slightly precocious two-year-old who learned the language using flash cards. yeah. yeah, that's right, haha, good one, like a parrot with a speak-n-spell." then i thought that maybe the students like this method. it is entirely possible that for some low-level students, the exaggerated enunciation and omission of important parts of speech makes for easier learning, or at least makes for the illusion that they are understanding and speaking proper english. i would not want to deprive my boss of the income he makes off of these people. (and i wouldn't want to risk getting fired for complaining about it.)
so today i finally made my move. we finished our last lessons at the same time, and i held the elevator open until he was done hitting on our (engaged) receptionist. "thanks," he said as he slid in. he opened his mouth again to speak but i cut him off.
"what you do... on week-end?" i spoke a little louder than i normally do, partly because i was nervous and partly because we were in a tiny japanese elevator and everything just sounds louder in there.
he looked at me a little funny and mumbled something about working on his movie.
"nice!" i said. "i go to... ha-ra-ju-ku. you know ha-ra-ju-ku? people there... wear costume. dress funny." the doors opened on the ground floor and we walked out. he was looking at me strangely again, as though he knew i was getting at something but he couldn't tell what. "i go now, use com-pu-ter. send e-mail. see you to-mor-row!"
i walked away as fast as i could. at the corner i looked back and he was walking slowly down the sidewalk, shaking his head and staring at the ground.
man, i hope i broke him.