Wednesday, 16 June 2010

PostHeaderIcon A double dose of excrutiating annoyance

I would be lying if I said I wasn't in an absolutely livid mood this morning.  Indeed, I probably wouldn't have found the energy to update my blog today if the rage of injustice was not pulsating throughout my body.  I'm trying to forge a connection to make an informative entry rather than just ranting irrationally.  I recently booked flights to Australia for my summer holiday.  The reason I had to book these so far in advance was because Japan has conditioned me to organise myself to death.  If you don't conform to this then you suffer the pain of things being fully booked or tripling in price.  The reason for this is because August (and Golden Week) are the only times when ALL Japanese people decide to travel abroad.  As I am a teacher, it means all my holiday opportunities are in sync with everyone else in the country.  Therefore, I quickly established that I should book some tickets on a budget airline before things got messy.  A return ticket from Osaka to the Gold Coast was about 80000 yen (£600) which is expensive in one light and exceptionally cheap in the other.  I'm skint and trying to save money but the biggest bonus of JET is being able to travel to all these places so far from Scotland so I like to take advantage.  It's usually a case of making the most of the available holidays and selecting a country to visit before you're really sure what you intend to do there.

As I am not allowed to own a credit card in Japan because I'm a foreigner; I had to use my home account to pay for the tickets for Naomi and I.  My bank account here has a Tom and Jerry picture on the card so I can't use them and my home bank keeps forgetting I live in Japan and blocked my card.  However, I managed to overcome these minor details and emptied my home account of my abysmal savings.  Everything was going well with these plans until Monday morning when the pain in my wisdom tooth forced me to visit my first dentist in Japan.  The problem I faced was the fact I had literally (I use this word with its proper meaning) no money in the entire world.  My account here was drained at the weekend because I bought lots of tequila, beers and wine for watching the World Cup.  Naomi has nothing as well and had to borrow money off me to pay for flights to Tokyo for a JET conference.  I don't get paid until next Monday and I had less than the minimum withdrawal amount for my foreign card (£80 is usually the minimum and I only had £50).  Therefore, I was almost considering driving to Aki to sell my Xbox games... in order to pay for the bloody dentist.  I couldn't believe I found myself in such a position but I managed to figure out that if you turn on the Japanese language at the foreign ATM then it lets you withdraw anything you want.  In the end ,I managed to scrape about 6000 yen together and hoped that my dentist trip would not exceed it.  JET has a great health insurance so I only had to pay 30% of the bill but I was still nervous I'd have to explain I had no money to pay them.  

My experience with the dentist was a blog post in itself but I'll try and cut it short because I actually need to go and teach soon.  There are about three or four dental surgeries exceptionally close to my house.  It's all the more interesting when each one is serving a town of about 3000 people.  It tends to be the case in rural Japan that things like clinics, barbers and opticians are abundant.  The majority tend to be exceptionally old and provide a service to... the old.  However, occasionally there will be one in a building that wasn't built in the early 70s.  I managed to find a new dentist in the town of Yasuda which is next to mine.  I have no complaints and instead have nothing but praise for the staff, ease of appointment, slow and easy explanations, ease of follow up appointment and generally excellent customer service.  This is in contrast to the dreary and dismal NHS dentist I went to in Scotland, where it is impossible to get an appointment and the staff look and sound like they should be working in a bar.  I even got an X-ray of my jaw and they showed me it on a television screen as they explained it.  My wisdom tooth had an infection or something and I needed it cleaned and was given some antibiotics.  It's alright now and I'm going back later today for a talk about my initial check-up.  I surprised myself by how good (adequate) my command of the Japanese language was that day.  I just wanted to book an appointment but the nice lady decided to ask me a variety of questions about insurance details and the like.  When I got there I was handed an A4 sheet of paper covered in questions.  Now... baring in mind I would need to concentrate when filling in a similar form in English... it was difficult.  I managed to do the majority of them but had to be talked through some of the others.  I think I managed to fool them into thinking I was quite good.  This always backfires though as they'll just assume I know what they're saying and I'll end up getting a wisdom tooth pulled out without an anesthetic.

My initial rage has subsided although the waves of my discontent are still occasionally lapping against the shore of my rationality.  I am angry this morning because I need to change the dates of my holiday.  Naomi has become a prefectural advisor which means she's in charge of helping people and organising conferences in the city.  She specifically asked the dates of the August conference for new people before we booked our holiday.  She was told that it was on the 12th and 13th.  Therefore, we booked out holiday for the 17th August to September 1st.  I thought we would need that much time to see the basics of the east coast and was quite happy with the dates as it gave us a day off before work starts again.  Anyway, I got an email from her this morning that said that the conference had now been pushed back to the following week.  She has to attend it so it means we now have five days cut off our two week holiday.  To make matters worse it is now going to cost more money to change these dates.  Furthermore... I have no money in my account at the moment so I won't be able to pay this additional amount and it may now sell out or increase  in price (as Saturday 21st already has).  Indeed, all this is based on the hope that this budget airline will let us change the dates as they tend to be quite strict on such issues.  Personally, I am angry because I'm paying +£600 for about 10 days in Australia.  I'm angry because it is my last, big holiday on JET and I probably won't be able to afford anything like it in the future.  I'm livid because we actually planned ahead and checked the dates so this would not happen.  Instead, whatever arsehole decided to change the dates is being entirely non-Japanese.  I can't ever fathom established dates for a Japanese conference for Japanese people in the holiday season would ever be changed.  We are basically being punished for conforming and being Japanese.  Indeed, all that seems to have been offered by those in charge is a "sorry!".  Well, I personally think that it is entirely unacceptable and unprofessional to pull such a move.  I don't care if I sound irrational.  I promise to write something better after the dentist today.


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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.