Day 33 - Friday Funday

Day 33 - March 11th, 2016 
Smog Level: All 3 Mountains

Ah, Fridays.

Fridays are the best day of the working week because they tend to be the last day for those of us who have a normal schedule. Sorry, service industry workers - you’re just getting started. I could probably work this job everyday and not mind it. I’m kind of used to working most days for whatever reason. On weekends, I find myself thinking about what I’ll do in class “today.”

"Thank God you're here, Mojito Man! We were having a RUMergency!"
Fridays at this job are particularly easy. Still have to get up at the normal time, but there’s only two 35 minute sessions with my kids where it’s completely free form - do whatever you want. In this case, I cover more of our “oral english,” which seems to be more accurately called “random english facts around specific theme.” This month’s theme: Geography. I suck at geography, but teaching them the continents, oceans, and some countries isn’t too bad. Bear in mind that they don’t take geography until middle school.

Think about what your teacher would use as a reward when you were a kid. Getting to draw, for example. These kids are forced to draw every day in kindergarten. The outcome is somewhat obvious if you’re familiar with psychology: some of them hate it. What are proper rewards to some of these kids? Cleaning the chalkboard. Collecting the pencils after class! Sweeping! It seems responsibility and leadership roles are in vogue. Another example is the girl who enjoys leading the class in their morning “eye exercises.”

Seems Like Something New Yorkers Might Have
Being Friday, I also have to babysit... I mean, "teach" a class of first graders. I don’t know what they’re learning, so I wing it with whatever instruction the teacher gives us. Go over the basic stuff, then play a game with them, really. The first of two classes is led by my coworker, Kevin, did just that, and let them use a nerf gun to shoot at a target drawn on the blackboard. I laugh at how I imagine western schools would react to any semblance of a gun being in a classroom. In the second class, I led it and played hang man.

After work, I went to the blind masseuse place, this time without Shimou. Speaking with blind people, you think, is easier than speaking with deaf people. This is totally true if you share a common language, but without being able to mime at all… yeah, it was difficult. After a few minutes of confusion and them trying to help, I tapped out and rung Shimou on the telly. I almost fell asleep during this massage session, two or three times. Some people are down with that, but, as I’ve said, I can sleep for free at home.

On my way home, I passed by an old man standing next to a cart, loaded up with all sorts of plants. I had been given an advance on my pay, allowing me to pay back the total I’d borrowed from Shimou, starting all the way back in Melbourne and ending this week. Feels good, man. I also managed to get enough to cover a gym membership and some spending money. 

This is a Building
Should I get a plant? “dūo shǎo qìan?(how much does it cost?)àr shì wǔ, àr shì wǔ” the old man responds. “Uhh.. this?” I ask, holding up a two, followed by a five. Thinking now, I might have held up 7 fingers. He didn’t get it, and I realized that their counting on fingers is different - they can count to ten on one hand. He gets confused, and I realize that I’m right, it’s ¥25. Abruptly, I say “zaì jìan(goodbye) and walk away. The crossing guard watching the exchange laughed.

Shimou meets me at the apartment, I give her the money I owe, and we grab a cab to meet Silvia across town “sān lǐ tún[sahn-lee-tune]. One of Shimou’s friends from high school is there, Bibi, who also speaks some english, but I can barely hear her. Apparently, she’s mildly famous on Instagram, with a few thousand followers. 

Korean hotpot - slightly different from Chinese; uses a medium sized-wok, cheese (of course), and a portable gas burner - Silvia and I talk about her job and a business idea she has. A lot of people are trying to get into universities outside of the country, so she thinks there’s money to be made in editing foreign applications. I’m down. Could be good!

That's Cotton Candy (bottom right)
Cool Design
After dinner, we go to this ice cream shop around the corner. The building is designed to look like an ice cream truck. Really good salted caramel ice cream,  and they had plenty of customization options. Bibi got her own, topped with cotton candy. She unexpectedly (to me) said goodbye, and left the three of us to enjoy our ice cream.

Silvia said her friend saw Ben Affleck, who is reportedly in Beijing. She showed me a picture, and yeah, it looked kind of like him. Cool. We went across the street to a “famous" book store, which had both English and Chinese books, and some in between! I found Aesop’s fables, hoping it would be simple enough to read to an 11-year-old.. but it’s not. Also, it was ¥150 ($30 CAD / $23 USD) for a paperback is kind of steep.

We cab back home after wandering around, looking for “lights” that neither of them explained nor fabricated. All I know is that Silvia thought they were stupid and Shimou wanted to show me them. Given that I’ve been awake 18 hours, I fall asleep as soon as I hit the floor.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
foot - jiǎo [jee-ow]
leg - tuǐ [toy]

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