Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When Worlds Collide: The Update!

So I left this post off with two WTF situations in full swing. I now have dramatic conclusions for both. DUN DUN DUN! If you don't know what I'm talking about then read the first post here.

Well wouldn't you know it, my VP said, "NO." The night of my first post, I got a call from my JTE saying that the VP had said no to my use of nenkyu because I cannot leave Japan until August 2nd which is when my new contract goes into effect. Wait, so now the issue is with my new contract and not the nenkyu? It's like they're just looking for reasons to keep me here! At this point my patience is running thin with this situation, so the next time I meet with my JTE, I remind him that I have already bought a plane ticket and explain again how I'm properly using the nenkyu. No go. He proceeds to ask me if my plane ticket is refundable to which I say, "I don't know" out loud and "Not a chance that's happening buddy" in my head, which is then followed by him "suggesting" for me to contact the Hyogo Board of Education for support which MIGHT sway the decision of the VP. Commence the emailing. Three days and ten emails later of catching the BoE up on the situation and explaining my reasoning, I am told that I am in the right. Thanks for confirming what I already knew, BoE. Back to my JTE. I print out the emails and although this particular JTE's English is pretty good, he sits there for a whole class period worth just burning holes through the paper trying to comprehend all the colloquialisms. Finally, he tells me that the VP is on a business trip so let's take it to the Principal. Now, this may sound like a worse situation, but my VP is new to the school whereas my Principal has known me since I got here and has always been pretty chill about my comings and goings. With emails in hand, my JTE explains the situation to the Principal. Pretty quickly it's met with a "those emails are in English, I can't understand them," (fair enough) "call the head of the BoE." In my head I'm screaming "DO IT! Resolve this non-issue already!" The call was made, the emails confirmed, case closed. My JTE turned and said to me, "Congratulations!" like I had won a court case. I smiled weakly because I wasn't looking for a fight in the first place and didn't feel like I had won anything. I was put through a lot of worry and stress about a situation I knew I had handled correctly.

The other situation with my neighbor escalated to involve two more JTEs and a big dose of American freedom fighting. Since the original post, I was approached again on two separate occasions. The first time was by a JTE who side-saddled up next to me as I was walking to the staff room and proceeded to ask about when I would give my neighbor the money. Although I knew it wasn't an official tax, I told him that my JET contract states that these kinds of extra taxes are covered for me or I'm exempt from them completely. He tries to tell me again that it's not a tax and that my neighbor ALREADY PAID FOR ME. -WTF?!- "Why did she do that??" I asked as calmly as I could. "Because it was due," he said. UGH. I told him I'm sorry she did that and voluntary tax or not, I don't have to pay. We parted ways once we got into the staff room.
Two days later (today) I am deliberately approached by just my neighbor. She has a receipt in hand and a pleading look in her eyes. Now, don't let the receipt fool you into thinking this is now an official tax. I even get a receipt for fruit I purchase on the street. So after three minutes of the most broken Japanese I've ever spoken because I am full of blind rage at being cornered like this, the JTE nearby finally comes over and tries to explain it to me again. Upset as I was, in a very calm, cool, and collected way, I cut him off and said, "I know this isn't a tax. I know she has already paid. Regardless, I am exempt from paying these kinds of fees and I don't appreciate these efforts to coerce me into paying them." My JTE looked taken aback and said "But don't you feel bad for her? Besides, this money goes into the community." I said, "I'm sorry, but I didn't ask her to pay for me." He and my neighbor have a brief discussion and she ends it with, "I should have asked her first. Daijoubu (It's ok)." She walks away and my JTE says to me with downcast eyes that he feels bad for her and I have a strong American mind. Yeesh. Well, as a woman with firm beliefs and strong sense of justice, I'm used to being called worse. So once again, I'm in the right and don't feel like a winner.

Next, I'm going for a trifecta of Japanese bureaucratic BS as I continue the process of getting my Japanese driver's license. Fun, fun, fun! Thanks to the BS, that story won't be complete for a while.