Tales From A Broad

My year of teaching English in Japan is up. Next mission: backpack Asia before going home to the U.S.A. Currently HOME!





Wanted

Ladies and gents, I need to write about this b/c us, foreigners, have been subjected to this epidemic for far too long: English-speaker stalkers. They’re leeches and they are on the prowl for natives in all big cities and rural towns throughout Japan. I’m talking about complete strangers who are far too keen to strike a conversation with us in situations where it’s socially awkward, and usually with the most inconvenient timing. Japanese people are typically shy, so one should be suspicious when approached by a person who is friendlier then most sane people by western standards. Of course this can’t be written without acknowledging and crediting the Japanese people who make conversation because they’re genuinely interested in learning about us and our countries. Most people I meet are beyond any politeness I’ve ever experienced back home and the spontaneous acts of kindness are always appreciated. Props to those peeps. Everyone else, read on b/c you may either be a victim or a perpetrator. Beware all you stalkers: I am not a free walking English conversation lesson!


Case 1: The Stretching Samurai

Scene of the crime: on the stretching mats of my gym
Date: about 2 weeks ago
The suspect: A far too genki (active, energetic) man in his 50’s,
Description: While doing some crunches, I noticed the Stretching Samurai trying to make eye contact as he faked some stretching exercises. I was busy so I pretended like I didn’t notice. My beat red cheeks or headphones didn’t deter him from asking me the ever so vital question, “Where are you from?” Seemingly harmless at first glance, I saw him again the following week. This time I was getting on the treadmill. Seeing me from across the gym, he dropped his weights and rushed towards me for a crash course on how to start the machine. Even though I had used it a million times before and was pressing all the right buttons, he insisted on translating them in English.


Case 2: The Tuesday Tea Lady

Scene of the crime: the office at one of my elementary schools
Date: once a month during my regular visits
The suspect: a happy house wife/part time tea lady; last seen wearing a pink nurse apron
Description: She is a silent killer. The kind that peers over my shoulder to see what I’m doing. Naturally, I sense her watching me so I make eye contact. Then, she locks me in. “Book,” she said, pointing at my copy of ZenZen.* I nonchalantly swept my hand over the R-rated comic strip I was reading. What follows is an earnest attempt to understand what she’s trying to tell me in the almost non-existant English she knows. “Book waano...interesting…Japanese study? I English…learn.” My brain always hurts by 2nd period. Although unarmed, she preys by staring and getting awkwardly close, crapping on her prey’s personal space. Avoid eye contact at all costs.


Case 3: The Ogling Obaachan

Scene of the crime: the sauna
Date: last month
The suspect: an obaachan (grandma) well in her 50’s, my height, wearing white hand towel draped over the southern region
Description: While basking, half-nude on the wooden bench, I had almost fallen asleep with my head against the wall until the Ogling Obaachan gently tapped my shoulder. “Are you OK with naked?” I shot her a startled look, still tiptoeing between consciousness and sub-consciousness. I replied, “Yes I’m ok with being naked.” In case I was OK before, this assured me that I wouldn’t be anymore because now the 4 other ladies in the sauna chimed in with their broken English. Queue the comments about why my arms and legs are long. She then proceeded to ask me the standard questions…”where are you from…what do you do…can you use chopsticks…???”

Please save yourself, your children, and your children’s children. If you have been a victim or know someone who has, please get help or comment below.

*For those of you back home, ZenZen is a raunchy indulgence published by some English teachers in my prefecture. It’s filled with gossip-worthy stories and humiliating pictures of our parties.
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At 21:38, Blogger Karen said...

OMG. This is hilarious.

I sometimes give in though..... but that's only on the condition that they buy me lunch/dinner.

But I guess being Filipino has its perks. I don't usually have people approaching me for a free impromptu English lesson. Instead they ask me (in Japanese) if I'm a dancer and which bar I work at.

Er. =X    



At 22:08, Blogger goongirl said...

Dude, start speaking spanish to them. I always fake I don't speak Japanese or English and Greek is not a popular language!    



At 23:48, Blogger Sarah said...

that'S good point steph    



At 02:21, Blogger goongirl said...

sarah, without sounding twattery it is my fourth time here. I got it down! cheers.    



At 07:08, Blogger Cee Pee said...

karen, that must be so frusteratin to be told that! maybe we should invent a secret code to speak in so they'll leave us alone!

steph and sarah..i'm on it! let's enjoy speaking not english together.. hahahaha    



At 23:54, Blogger alex said...

I was once followed by this J-nurse girl, who sat on a chair in the entrance to the department store (having followed me there) watching me buy my bread, and then pounced on me on my way out. I always plan to pretend that I'm German or something, but I'm a terrible liar! She said she wanted to speak English, and I shouldn't worry about not being able to speak Japanese! I had to tell her about 5 times that I did. She didn't understand a word of English, so I had to tell her in Japanese in the end anyway! It wouldn't be so bad if she could actually speak a bit of English in the first place. You just reminded me of something else I want to rant about on my blog - thanks!    



At 00:49, Blogger laura said...

I was invited to lunch by these people who I now know are gaijin stalkers (but they'd seemed ok before this incident). I wasn't feeling so well that day (found out later I had the flu), so I waited for about a half hour after we ate so that I wouldn't seem too rude and then told them I had a bad headache and was going to head home...well, they would have none of it! The husband literally said to me (in what I felt was a stern way) "Laura, please sit down" then put down paper and a pencil in front of me and told me to teach his children (J and S High aged) about Canada! The nerve of some people...in exchange for lunch I'm supposed to teach your kids English?? The kids looked about as thrilled about this as I was, after having had their parents force English on them their whole life...    



At 02:38, Blogger Cee Pee said...

Alex and Laura, seriously, the madness has gotta stop! can't we get restraining orders on people stalking us at hospitals and restaurants?!?    



At 08:11, Blogger Stubby said...

I have one that I managed to avoid for ages. Shehas to collect the lunch money - I have taken to leaving it on her desk.

She now, realising she has to come up with inovative new ways to talk to me, comes up to me and speaks Japanese far too fast. Knowing I wont understand she then proceeds to translate what shes saying trying to spark a conversation. Do you know what she is saying - THE BLOODY LUNCH MENU - I dont care. I eat it and will eat it whatever it is!!! But its not just that she tries to then say. Have you eaten this before? and things like that.

JET warned us about many things - But the ENglish Leech - Well thats a phenomenon they let us find out for ourselves!

Pete    



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