The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Recent Events

So, I moved from Kashiwa, into a hotel for a few days, and finally into my new place in Yokohama. Actually, I'm out in the suburbs. Yokohama is, I believe, the 3rd largest city in Japan, but where I am feels like a very residential small town. It's quite pleasant...

Last week I was traveling all over the place, doing sample lessons. It was fun, I suppose ... I got to visit a lot of campuses in the Tokyo area, and meet a lot of students. Then last Wednesday, I took the bullet train up to Fukushima for the day, which was also fun.

I had my orientation for the new university on Thursday, and yesterday was the first day of school. It was kind of crazy; we didn't know where we were going, or anything, and I was almost late for my first class, but it ended up being okay. The students are extremely low level, but very enthusiastic and nice.

But just to backtrack a bit, I had a weird experience Thursday night. After the orientation, I went out with some co-workers as it was my last day in the office. After some food and some drinks, we came out of the bar and started heading for the subway. It was about 10 p.m. at this point, and they weren't very many people on the street. We rounded the corner, and I noticed an old man lying on his back in the sidewalk about 20 metres ahead of us. "Crazy old drunk!" I thought; it's rare but not unheard of to see people passed out in the street at night. But this was a very strange place to pass out. As we got closer, I realized from the position of his limbs and the way he was lying, that he wasn't drunk. "This isn't good," I remember saying. I ran up and yelled, "Are you all right?" He obviously wasn't. I felt for a pulse at his neck and at his wrist. There was nothing, and in fact, he was cold to the touch. "He's dead ... you'd better call the police..."

My Japanese co-worker went off to get the police from the local station, and I stayed with the body. The man's eyes were open slightly, and there was a trace of blood around his nose and mouth. He had been wearing a medical-type bracelet on his wrist, but it had fallen off. His clothes were strangely askew. At some point, I realized that he had jumped or fallen out of the high-rise apartment we were standing in front of. It was starting to rain, and I had this feeling that I couldn't just stand there and let him get rained on, so I held my umbrella over his body. A small crowd of people gradually started to accumulate. The sight of me holding my umbrella over a dead body must have made the whole scene doubly strange. Within a few minutes, a pair of young police officers rode up on their bicycles. They felt for a pulse, didn't find one, and then radioed it in. My Japanese co-worker had to stay and answer a few questions, but I was free to go so I left.

On the way home, the train was full, as usual, with all kinds of people: taciturn salary-men, boistrous couples, sleepy high school students, housewives. I couldn't stop looking at their faces. A few people must have wondered what I was staring at.


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