Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Door to the Men's Bathroom is Out to Get Me

This happened the other day at Sasagawa Elementary School and I'm only getting the opportunity to blog about it now. It continues the theme started in a pervious post of structures trying to kill me - why I can't imagine; I love architecture. For some reason, completely beyond me, beyond the furthest probabilities, the school has recently settled in a very strange way that only allows easy entering of the washroom but jams the door when exiting. It's hard to explain the sheer mathematics of the thing: entering is fine, but somehow, upon exiting, the angles and pressures are such on the jam when pulling the handle it leverages the door tightly shut. And the harder one pulls, the more strongly it gets wedged. Visiting that school for years now, one just expects it to work how it did in the past. It's hard to describe the panic that sets in: not being able to leave, not seeing any obvious problems. It surprising how quickly the human mind jumps to a scenarios whereby one is found days later, eating toilet paper, in a room that was never locked. I mentioned it to the other male teachers and they shared their similar stories and sympathies.

Recently my students have been letting slip they know I'm leaving. When they mention it my heart normally sinks a bit and I feel like I'm losing my balance. It's easier to answer the young kids questions because I'm forced to describe it in super-easy terms. My Family lives far away. Would you want to live far away from you family? etc. However, the older kids deserve more direct and detailed answers. Luckily, a pattern seems to be emerging that hints at a way to solve this dilemma. They are most concerned with the idea of me returning. This lends itself to an explanation where I can admit it hurts to be leaving Japan, but that I will be forever returning and this is not the last time I will be standing on these shores.

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