Teaching In Socks

Aggressive Punctuality
Dont be late!

But don't be late!

Punctuality has never been my forte. If my memory serves me correct, I embraced the dilatory lifestyle as early as 1st grade. These habits were undoubtedly passed down from father, but i hold no ill will towards him as a result; in fact, in retrospect, they may have been a popularity boon of sorts.

I’m not sure if at the time I found it cool to be the kid arriving late, but I think it distinguished me among my peers, and that made me cool. In elementary school, anything that distinguishes you and makes you the center of attention that doesn’t involve you having to wear a pair of pants procured from the Lost and Found or excessive teacher praise is an ethos to cool. Soccer skills were cool, burping skills were cool, and being late was cool. I was the king of being late.

This routine dominated a large portion of my high school and collegiate career, and even permeated into my early professional gigs; however it is not attribute that could survive in Japan. Tardiness is a sin that this nation will not stand for. f you’re five minutes late, you might as well have killed a kitten. Plan on spending the next ten minutes apologizing–it’s a 2:1 ratio at least, unless you’re married.

I tried my best to country with a fresh perspective. In doing so, I began to see Japan’s logic on the matter of punctuality. Namely, what is so important that makes you late? (I still answer “sleep” in response to this question)

I am proud to say that in compliance with the reigning colloquial standards I have shifted my attitude, routine, paradigm and everything else to become a person that–at least on a professional level–arrives on time, if not early.

On average, I arrive at work ten minutes early. I set up the school, and officially clock in about five minutes early. This is nearly a 4,000% increase over my record at my previous employer. It feels kind of good. Not really good, there’s no “punctuality high”, but there is a small sense of accomplishment.

However, despited the marked improvement, the punctuality gods still have a score to settle with me. They conspire several times a week to haunt me with over-punctual students.

These students exceed the newly-rigged adjective, “ultra-early”. Some of these students consistently show up 25-30 minutes before class. I hate show offs.

What’s even more perplexing is their motivation for doing this.  I’m certainly not that interesting to talk to–in some cases I have another class before theirs so I’m not even in the lobby available for conversation, so that motive can be ruled out.Also, I checked around, we do not have a Nintendo Wii in the lobby, nor is their money hidden anywhere. We don’t even serve refreshments.

Now, I understand this isn’t the worse thing in the world. It’s just a little, kind, friendly human interaction. However we need a moderation of all things, and to be honest, in the Internet age, I’m good for about 10 minutes of small-talk, tops. Add on to that their limited command of English, and I have to start getting really creative just to sustain a five minute conversation.

At some point in the year, I wouldn’t be surprised if I am forced to break out “I Spy”. Once that happens, “Twenty Questions” and the daily riddle are sure to follow. If we add that to the weekly routine of “Head Shoulder Knees and Toes” (a classic!) that I already do and by February I will officially be the coolest (lamest) kid in First Grade…again.


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