The forth time I came to Japan, I came with the JET Programme to work in the public school system not just as an ALT, but as an aspiring teacher hoping to learn a few tricks of the trade. I was hoping to figure out if I wanted to pursue this as a long term career. I spent my university studying and learning about Japan, studying the language, working through the customs and I was excited to find my place in the busy island mega culture and mingle with not just the people, but the other teachers, the other sensei. I would become a sensei myself, by golly!
And how would I butter ’em up? THE DRINKING PARTIES. Where co-workers gather to loosen up, pour each other sake and beer from bottomless bottles; where finally the opinions that are stuffed up and gulleted all day are shared vomited up with so much booze and growth and reflection can occur; where people bond and the working wheels are greased.
Maybe it’s because no one enjoys these drinking parties at work; maybe it’s because they’re awkward enough without any fucking gaijin tagging along; maybe it’s because there’s guaranteed to be someone there who’s gonna pick a fight and it’s just best for our well-being if we don’t go. But whatever the reason invites are few and far between. Get ready to go drinking with your other foreigner bettys and bras to fucking take on the town, coz you’re drinking without escort tonight! Time to tarnish our names further.
Oh, I have been invited. I caught the other sensei (AND THIS IS TRUE) waving “No!” behind our backs when my ALT buddies and I were asked out. I’ve heard the teachers murmuring about going out to drink at the local bar – and the bar is local only to ME because it’s across the street from my fucking house! “Sh! Quiet! He speaks some Japanese!” I’ve caught them there, smoking outside. “Oh! That’s right – you live across the street! Please, step inside and join us!”
“Sorry! I have other plans! Next time!” I say.
The next time I bring it up at work – an awkward, “Oh yeah! We do that from time to time.” And no further dialogue.
And then they ask me to come to the Rice Cake Making Event. I’m so tired of this.