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I have been contacted by many people recently pointing out mistakes and errors in my recently published textbook, The Big Blue Book of How to Business Better. With my apologies, here are the corrections.
In my first six months of teaching English in Japan, I was teaching a lesson with the Japanese teacher and because nobody was volunteering to answer questions I was picking on students to do it. All the students had namecards so I could see them and pick on them more easily. Anyway.
I picked this lad and said his name out loud (I can’t remember exactly what it was, Hiroshige or something, I think) and so I was like, “Hiroshige, (or whatever) what’s the answer?”
At that moment, everyone in the class started pissing themselves laughing. Like, utter pant-shitting hilarity. Like, folded over, laughing, all students and the teacher, crying, gasping for breath, unable to speak, guffaws, chortles, hearty Oh-my-God-I-can’t-stop-laughing laughing.
So the hilarity starts to die down and I’m just standing there at the front of the class looking confused and the Japanese teacher, in between catching her breath and trying to suppress her snickers was like, “You (pant) you (laugh) said his name a bit wrong (gasp)”
And so I was like, “Okay…with you so far”
And she was like, “You (hahaha) called him (pant) ‘Mustache’”
She’s locked herself out of her computer twice in the last hour.
She’s blaming ‘frustration at the fact that our printer is broken’.
For crying out loud this person is allowed drive a fucking car
This story is true, I swear, and it happened yesterday afternoon.
You may recall my idiot coworker, the one in the next cubicle that I used to blog about until I felt a bit guilty for mocking the afflicted. She’s earning, if not a six figure salary, then something extremely close to it.
As with most days, yesterday she appeared in my doorway with a pained expression on her face, asking if I could help her with something. This is common. Usually it’s her inability to work Excel pivot tables, or she’s trying to add two dates together.
But this was no mere spreadsheet problem. This was something far more sinister.
"My keyboard isn’t working, there’s something wrong with it," she said as I walked around to her desk. She pointed to the area above the ‘Insert,’ ‘Home,’ and ‘Page Up’ keys.
"This light came on and it won’t go off and it means nothing’s working properly." She pointed at the middle light of the trio, then started hitting random keys on her keyboard. Bash bash bash she went, hitting the Return key and the P key and the cursor keys. She looked up at me. "See, it won’t go off!"
I looked my colleague in the eye, initially lookin for a scintilla of an indication that she was joking, then realising she was serious. “That’s the caps lock light,” I said, probably in a similar tone to when I tell to my toddler not to climb on bins. “You have caps lock on.” She looked back down at the keyboard.
"How do you not know this? How do you not know how to turn off caps lock? Why are you hitting random keys in order to try and turn off a light on your keyboard that you’ve apparently never noticed before? WHAT DO YOU THINK HITTING THE LETTER P KEY WILL DO? WHAT PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE LED YOU TO BELIEVE THAT RANDOMLY HITTING THE P KEY WILL SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM IN ANY WAY? ‘BECAUSE THE P KEY TURNS RANDOM LIGHTS ON AND OFF ON MY KEYBOARD’? SURE, THAT’S WHAT IT’S FOR, ISN’T IT? "P" - THE KEYBOARD-LIGHT-TURN-ON-AND-OFFER. GOOD OLD P AND ITS ILLUMINATION-RESTRAINING PROPERTIES! Oh, oh, no, wait, ACTUALLY, YOU IMBECILE, THE LETTER P KEY ON YOUR KEYBOARD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WRITING THE LETTER ‘P’! THE CLUE MAY HAVE BEEN THE UPPER CASE LETTER Ps THAT JUST APPEARED ON THE ACTIVE CELL IN YOUR SPREADSHEET WHEN YOU STARTED BANGING ON YOUR KEYBOARD LIKE A CHIMP WHO HAS BEEN UNEXPLAINEDLY ALLOWED INTO AN OFFICE SETTING! A CHIMP WHO, I MIGHT ADD, WOULD PROBABLY ALSO MAKE FEWER MISTAKES IN THEIR MONTHLY INVOICE CREATION!" is something I wanted to add, but didn’t.
I pressed the caps lock key. The mysterious light turned off. My colleague tried to do the activities that had previously been not working. They worked.
"You’re amazing, do you know that?" she asked as I walked back to my desk.
"Yes, I do," I replied, trying to avoid rolling my eyes into the back of my head.
"Does your wife ever tell you you’re amazing?" she asked.
"She does," I replied, "but surprisingly never because I’ve just shown her how to turn off caps lock."
I’m getting ready to take Audrey to daycare and we’re already twenty minutes late and I haven’t had breakfast and she’s eaten practically nothing but doesn’t seem to want anything but now she’s crying because she wants a cookie and I’m trying to get my lunch ready and there’s apple sauce on my shirt and milk on my shoes and godaloneknowswhat on my trouser leg and I’ve no idea where her mittens are and it’s three below with the wind chill outside and now Audrey is crying because she wants Daddy to play with her and she has a crayon and a piece of paper but no goddamn mittens (where are they) and she wants Daddy to draw something (usually a sheep or a bear or a cat) on the paper and she will then take the crayon and colour the sheep or the bear or the cat (and by colour we mean scribble scribble scribble all over the poor poorly-drawn animal) and my bag is still full of pens and HB pencils from last night’s exam and now we’re half an hour late and these sandwiches I just made look terrible and Audrey is crying because DADDY YOU MUST DRAW A SHEEP and now she waves the crayon and she waves the paper because obviously Daddy is now oblivious to noise and only large toddler movements can distract him from his lunchbag and Audrey lets go of the paper and it flies up in the air.
And then the paper softly, gently, gracefully, falls back to the kitchen floor, arcing, pirouetting, a loop-the-loop just before ground level and quiet rest on the tiles.
Then Audrey stops crying. I stop making lunch. Audrey smiles and looks at Daddy. I smile and look at Audrey.
The simple unpredictable motion of a falling paper has brought quiet pause to the moment.
I bend down, pick up the paper, hold it high above my head and let go.
Swoop. Arc. Dive-bomb. Slide. Audrey claps.
Again, I pick up the paper. Again, falling, smooth graceful loops until rest on the kitchen floor. Audrey laughs.
I pick up and drop the paper several more times, each time more laughing, clapping, signing and saying ‘more’, giggling when the paper almost lands on her head.
We are now half an hour late.
If you are a legal resident but not a citizen in a country, and your residency status is proved by a card that expires every five years, and immigration authorities do not send out reminders before these cards expire, you should probably check that card on a periodic basis in order to ensure it has not expired.
This would be very helpful in case you are forced to travel overseas at less than 24 hours’ notice due to a family emergency, and, upon arriving back in your adopted country after almost two weeks of emotionally draining activity, eager to see your wife and daughter again, the automated card reading machine says “Your Residency Card has expired. Please see an immigration agent” and you find yourself being calmly told to please take some deep breaths by a friendly gentleman in a bullet-proof vest.
I want to say thank you to everyone for the messages of support that I’ve received here, on Facebook, email and elsewhere after the death of my Mum. One thing that has helped to get me through it all has been the knowledge that I have friends at home and abroad who are thinking of me. And like the letters and cards that came to our house in the subsequent days, the replies and messages on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook have brought both tears and smiles. I want to reply to everyone but I’m finding the prospect too intimidating. Please know, if you’ve sent me a message, or hearted a post, I really appreciate it.
I spoke to a friend on the phone a few days after coming back to England. His father died a few years ago, and his advice was the best I’ve received. Grief is weird, he told me. It’s strange. It doesn’t make sense. You try to rationalise it and you can’t, because it’s just how your body or your brain feels at that moment. There’ll be good days and bad days and you’ll have no idea why today is a bad day, it’s just a bad day and you’ve got to go along with it until it’s a good day. Be selfish, and do what you need to do until you feel better. At some point the good days will be the majority.
Last Sunday was the worst day I’ve had since getting the news two weeks earlier. I’ve no idea why, I just spent pretty much all of the morning crying. Now I’m back in Canada what tends to set me off is the occasional moment of forgetfulness, where my brain goes “oh, it’s snowing, I should remember to tell Mum that when she phones later. No, wait, she isn’t going to phone later.” That’s what gets me.
I’m back in work and it’s helping, except for the queue of people earlier in the week waiting to tell me their stories of bereavement. Audrey is helping by just being a toddler who wants to play with her Daddy. And again, the knowledge that friends are thinking of me is helping as well.
It’s weird, all of my grandparents died what could be called long deaths, predicated by events months or years in the past: Strokes, minor heart attacks, Alzheimers. They went through frailty, wheelchairs, nursing homes, commodes, the indignity of old age, looks of sadness as they struggled to recall their own children’s names…all of that. And when they finally passed away we comforted ourselves by saying they were in a better place, that they’re no longer suffering.
But my Mum just went. There was nothing to say it was going to happen. And while we’re trying to comfort ourselves that she didn’t go through all that stuff, that she didn’t suffer (hastily adding the caveat that still, 66 is no age to go, it’s still too young), it doesn’t feel like much of a consolation. I guess because either way you look at it, she’s not there any more.
I’m rambling. This was supposed to be about appreciation. So I’ll return to my original thoughts. Thank you all again.
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