Home > Pre-Japan > Wherein: Dash does all right, by doing it all wrong

Wherein: Dash does all right, by doing it all wrong

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today, I am going to start a new segment (that has been a trend lately, and I can say with some certainty that this will not be the last segment on my blog) called “Gaijin Smashiell.”

For those of you proficient in the Japanese language, you will of course realized (after stopping your good five minutes of hearty laughter and recovering your inevitable loss of breath) the pun I am making here. I cleverly combined the term: “Gaijin smash” (which can be explained to mean something along the lines of: “Any time a foreigner enters a situation and, using his or her utter foreignness, manages to disregard any or all of the rules (both cultural, ethical, and judicial) relevant to said situation, and yet comes out victorious in the end.”) with my name, which is “Dashiell.”

As a cultural, ethical, and judicial loving man, I tend to do my 一所懸命 (いっしょけんめい- issyokenmei, best) to avoid “Gaijin Smashielling” any more than I absolutely have to. Today, thanks to my selective hearing, the fact that Japanese is my third language, and a general lack of wherewithal, I “gaijin smashiell’d” a hospital.

(Note, “gaijin smashiell” and any related variations of the word, the meaning, and any and all merchandise related to this concept is copyrighted, and any unauthorized use of this term will be punishable by severe, unmentionable scorn and punishment, and possibly even a lawsuit, which is quite different from a regular suit, a pants suit, or even your birthday suit. Besides, why would you ever want to use a term like “gaijin smashiell” if your name is Bob? Or “Takeshi?”)

Let me give you some background information before continuing on to the meat of the story. About a month ago, my supervisor called me into the office, as he does from time to time. He handed me an envelope, and said: “You have to do a physical on December 16th, so you will have half the day off.” He then went on to describe (in curious detail) what the envelope contained, and what sort of preparatory activities I would have to do to get ready for this physical. I will spare you these details, as they were rather unpleasant. He also told me that I had the same appointment as another JET, Alex, who has been here four years and would be able to show me the ropes. “OK.” I said, and promptly forgot all about it. (This, of course, I did not have to tell you regular readers of my blog.) As the time came, I did my preparations and this morning at 8:40 AM I arrived at the city office (by myself, because Alex had been mistakenly scheduled for Monday instead of Wednesday) to take my (short) bus (it was quite short…) to the hospital where my physical would be taking place.

Upon my arrival, I took my number, peed into a cup, and returned to the main desk. I must mention here now that drawing from my past experiences, in America when you pee in a cup you are given a fairly intricate cup with a lid, and everything. That was not the case here. We were handed a paper cup, fairly easily confused with the cups from the water/coffee/tea machine across the hall. After returning to the main desk, I spent some time generally not understanding the instructions being given, only gaining an insight after the nurses began phase two of “how to speak to a foreigner,” which involves copious amounts of hand movements, and visual stimulants. (Realia as they are called in the ESL game.) I handed in my insurance card (that’s what they were asking?! Why couldn’t they just ask for my カード??) and the other “materials” I brought along with me. Then the lady directed me to the changing room, where she explained that there were lockers where I could put my belongings and where I could strip down to one layer of clothing. At least, this is what I thought I understood. All this meant for me (or all I chose for it to mean for me) was that I took off my coat and sweatshirt. Only when I exited the changing rooms did I notice that I was the only one not wearing the hospital-provided robes. Wondering where I might acquire these hospital robes, I followed the next instructions given to me by the (always) friendly staff. I went to station number one, and entered the room. Oops. “Nono,” the friendly staff member scolded. “Please put your clipboard in this box, and we will call you.”

I have already lost count of how many faux pas I have made up till now, (and I think I may count using a “French” word in a blog about Japan as the latest) but it’s not important. Allow me to continue. It gets better, I promise.

Of course, being the only foreigner in the place made me stand out like a sore thumb (and it was not only because I was not wearing the hospital-provided clothing, which I had yet to figure out how to get my hands on.) Soon after sitting down a pretty nurse slowly crept up to me (this is difficult to describe, but “creeping” is as close as I can get. It seems that being the only foreigner, they did not feel the need to call my name, and came up to me instead. But as many of you may know if you have lived in Japan, approaching someone in Japan requires an amount of finesse not known to many other cultures. As if approaching someone is the greatest offense known to mankind, a slow, careful approach is necessary, minimizing the amount of disturbing you do to this person, which is of course absurd because your one and only goal in this entire process is to disturb them.) and led me into the room I had previously smashed into unwittingly. The nurse asked me first (in Japanese) whether my Japanese was OK. I responded something along the lines of “It’s generally OK,” which lead all the nurses to stop what they were doing (even those taking blood from other patients) and make comments such as: “Wow!” and “Amazing!” The pretty nurse then proceeded to ask me a number of strange questions such as: “How fast do you eat?” It took me quite some time to answer this, because I spent a minute trying to figure out what exactly to say. “I eat at a speed comparable to a wounded cheetah.” was the first thing that came to mind, wanting to answer this absurdly strange question with an equally strange answer. I refrained, however, and answered: “Kinda fast, I guess? Sometimes.” She then took a vial of my blood and sent me on my way to the eye check station.

Sitting down in the chair, the nurse first asked me to stand up again so she could lower the chair, which was done mechanically. I then looked into the machine, placed my hand on the joystick in front of me, and began pursuing the little square in my vision. It went left, and my joystick went left. Up? I went up. Then at times, it went diagonally. Attempting at first to move my joystick diagonally, this was an utter failure. It did not register my diagonal motion, no matter how hard I tried, so I then chose whichever one I thought it moved more towards. This went on for some time, and then it was over. I stood up and moved on to the next station, vaguely wondering what exactly that (defective) eye game actually accomplished. Perhaps it was secretly an aptitude test? One which I had surely passed by refusing to play along with their non-winnable game.

The third station involved me arriving and standing awkwardly in a type of limbo trying to figure out which of the two baskets to place my clipboard in. After a while, they must have sensed my presence, and they simply stuck their hand out through the little slot and made me give them the clipboard. A chest X-ray was taken, and I moved on to yet another station. As I was waiting for my eyes to be photographed (isn’t that weird?! Your eyes, with which you see the world, being seen intimately by another pair of eyes…) As I waited for this, I was startled by an unnecessarily loud nurse yelling something or another at another lady behind a closed curtain. I have no idea what she was doing to her, but it sounded very scary. The lady came out all smiles though, so I can’t imagine it was that bad. My eyes were photographed, I proceeded on to have random sensors placed all over my body, and then it was on to the five second doctor visit, where he checked my breathing, where I opened my eyes wide when he asked me to open my mouth wide, and where he asked me all of one question, which was: “Are you healthy?” Naturally I responded: “Yes.” “OK, that’s all.” he said and I meandered out of there wondering whether he had not forgotten to bring his little question check list today and was just going by memory.

That was the end of my physical. I handed in my clipboard, they returned my insurance card, and I proceeded to the changing room, only to find baskets and baskets of hospital-provided pants and shirts directly in front of me. Feeling like a class-A douchebag, I got my stuff out of the locker and went outside to partake in delicious saltine crackers and a few cups of frothy tea.

I got back to the city office at around 11:25 AM, and from there proceeded home for about 10 minutes to quickly grab something to eat, feeling rather lightheaded, and headed to school to get ready for my one class, which would involve 105 students (the entire fourth grade merged into one.) Arriving at school, the Vice Principal then hurriedly explained to me that my 4th graders had in fact been waiting for me for 30 minutes, because he had received confirmation from my supervisor (unbeknownst to me) that I had arrived and there would be enough time to fit my massive class into the 4th period, right before lunch. I hauled my behind up the stairs and engaged in 20 minutes of class, before it was time for the 4th graders to prepare for lunch.

That’s about the gist of it for today, quite an interesting one. Oh! I must not forget, of course, the fact that I had an e-mail conversation with my friend Kate about my crazy physical, wherein she informed me that I was not supposed to chase the stupid squares in my eye test, but was supposed to indicate which side of the square the side was missing, a fact which had not been told to me during the actual exam. (I did not even notice the fact that these boxes were missing one side, though this certainly explains why my excellent efforts at beating the test by going diagonally were not accepted by the computer.) I am now eagerly awaiting word from the Nakatsu city office that due to my extraordinarily odd sense of sight, they are impressed I have managed to live to the age of 23 while being the most visually challenged person ever to enter Japan. I have no doubt my test results will show this, and am intrigued to find out what will come of it.

And so, on Wednesday December 16th, at approximately 9:20AM to 10:30 AM, Dashiell Slootbeek gaijin smashed a hospital. Stay tuned for the next part of this segment, which I can only imagine will be entitled: “wherein: Dash gaijin smashes a police station and makes off with hundreds of millions of yen.”

-Dash

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Categories: Pre-Japan
  1. Peri
    December 16, 2009 at 9:49 am

    it gets weirder and weirder. no more chest x-rays, or other x-rays. I’m sure there’s a japanese way to say “my mother doesn’t approve.” 😉

  2. Tim
    December 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    ===> that way! get that box!!!
    <===now this way!

  3. Harrie
    December 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I wonder what happened to the cup of urine, did it get mixed up with the tea?

  4. December 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Great stuff! Let me know how the vision test results go

  5. dotbearman
    December 18, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    It could be worse……love foufou

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