Kicking off Golden Week

GOOD #1: A Tatami Timesharer from Fukuoka, Emily, and her friend Greg, an English teacher in China, came through yesterday. They’re hitchhiking Shikoku for Golden Week, and caught a ride into town, so we had dinner at Medaka (a local izakaya) and watched Say Anything (an old-school John Cusack movie–surprisingly good; I really don’t watch movies that often, I guess, because I’d never seen John Cusack in anything before) at Hannah’s place, where they stayed the night and took off early this morning to head down to the Iya Valley. They were really cool, and it was a nice and relaxing night.

GOOD #2: Louise is here! We met up in Okayama (as we suspected, seeing as how she’s just a bit taller than I am, and my 5’9″-ish height has me towering over the people here, it was really, really easy to find each other) and have been talking nonstop all afternoon/evening. We had dinner at La Tavola, walked down to the video store, and have just been hanging out. It’s been so great so far, and I foresee this being a totally relaxing and wonderful long weekend.

BAD: I think we have a serial garbage bag trasher on the loose–that, or a gaijin-targeter. On Sunday, I came outside to see that one of Chalice’s garbage bags had ripped open and garbage was strewn all over the landing in front of her door. I thought that she’d dropped it or something, and went ahead and cleaned most of it up for her, since she won’t be back till this weekend, and I bagged it and left it outside my door to take down later.

Today, I was cleaning my apartment in preparation for Louise coming, and I tied up a full garbage bag and set it right outside my door, with every intention of taking it downstairs when I headed out in the afternoon to catch my train several hours later. As I was cleaning, I started to hear this weird banging sound coming from outside, and wondered what was going on and looked out my peephole but couldn’t see anything. I figured it was best to just stay inside and not look strange by poking my head out and looking around, and I didn’t think it could be anything strange or untoward–maybe somebody was replacing the flickering light and having problems getting it into place? But it went on for a long time, longer than I expected.

I came outside 20 minutes before my train was set to leave, only to find that the garbage in the bag had been strewn all over the landing. Several pieces of trash, including the remains of the trash bag itself, had fallen (or been tossed) down the stairs to the lower floor.

I was completely in shock. I couldn’t believe this had happened–that banging had been somebody hoisting my bag and just flinging it around for 15 or 20 minutes straight! All I could think, and can still think, is, what the hell?(??) I’ve never seen anything like it. And it was totally my trash–I recognized the wrappers, boxes, and bottles of the stuff that had been in that bag. (The lotion I brought from home, the Indian instant Maggi-brand atta noodles that have been sitting on my shelf for 4 months…) I had no idea what to think, but I was absolutely furious. Could one of my neighboring teachers have done it because they didn’t like that I left my bags outside? Could my landlords have done it? It then hit me that the same thing had happened to one of Chalice’s bags–the strange thing was that she had another trash bag outside her door, and nothing had happened to it, which was why I thought one of her bags had just ripped and everything had spilled out…but typically, if that happens, it’s just confined to one area, and not scattered across a 3-foot radius.

I was almost trembling with anger as I walked quickly down the street to the train station. It was just so random and awful–because not only were the wrappers and boxes scattered, but the food particles and fruit peelings and whatnot were there as well, and those were far harder to clean up. I didn’t have time to clean it up right then, because I would’ve missed my train if I had. When Louise and I returned after dinner, we dropped her stuff off inside and set to work cleaning up the biggest parts of it. She commented that she’s heard about people in Japan who have trash “issues”–some people collect trash, others have strange mental issues when it comes to trash bags, and so forth, so we could have some sort of serial trash obsessee. It could also be an issue with our being two of the three most blatant foreigners in town (there are plenty of Filipinas who work the snack bars as well, but we stand out far more), since none of our neighbors typically leave trash bags out and I’ve never seen any trash explosions like this. It was late enough that my landlords’ sweet shop (where we go during the day if we need them for anything) was closed, but you can bet that first thing tomorrow, I’m going down to talk to them.

It’s funny–I’ve heard all the stories from fellow ALTs with strange issues they’ve had. Hannah had a woman verbally harass her to the point of tears and was sexually harassed by another man, Nick has a teacher who didn’t know the Holocaust existed, several people have students who won’t listen, a couple have pretty difficult and trying BOE and/or JTE situations, several others have had strange run-ins with locals…but not counting Sleeping Self-Pitying Slightly-Mental Eikaiwa Lady, nothing like that really has happened to me. Before today, that is.

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