Wednesday, October 17, 2007

John (who is not John)

Jane just danced a jig in the teachers’ office. I asked her why she is so happy. She has no lessons next Monday she told me. The students are going on an outing. This performance - I am sure - would startle her students. She is a very good teacher. Thus, she is a teacher who sometimes gives her students extra classes. None of them would ever guess that she might have a life outside of teaching, that she might enjoy her days not teaching.

Jane has a daughter who went to university in Philadelphia. This daughter lives in Hong Kong. She is a banker. Jane goes down to visit her daughter on holidays sometimes. Her daughter lives in an expensive high-rise.

On the other side of the basketball court is a little school store where all sorts of snacks are sold. This store I forget exists. Sitting at my desk, I remember I forgot to eat my yogurt this morning. Coffee is the only thing in my stomach. Never do I remember to go to this school store in the morning, so I do not know what treats are offered. I decide to head that way as the bell rings, or rather as the end of class song plays with which I am not familiar. Most teachers keep the students in the class a minute or so after the bell music has rung. So, the students do not flood out into the hallway as I make my way through the building and across the width of the basketball courts to the school store.

At the store, I stare at the shelves. There are American snacks, the usual M&Ms, Snickers, Lays Potato Chips. Then there are Chinese snacks prawn crackers, Lays Tomato flavored Potato Chips, various dried fruit which I have tried that sometimes tastes like mentholated chemicals have been added. Often, in the morning, I have a couple of chocolate muffins. These I buy at the convenience store – Buddy’s or All Days. The school store does not have the muffins that I crave. Thus I stare at the shelves.

A couple of students from Class 4 come into the store.

“We have your class this afternoon?” one of them asks me. The other stares at the beverages on the other side of the store.

“Yes,” I tell him and add “Is all of this healthy?” as I point to the chips on the shelves.
“This is not healthy,” he replies.
“I cannot decide what I want.”
He points to some Chinese snack involving duck which is fortunately not duck necks.

At that point, a herd of students stampede into the store. “It may be too late for me to get anything,” I tell him somewhat in resignation.
However, the students, or rather, the store system is an efficient ones. Most of the students, I suppose, know what they are going to purchase when they walk into the store. After all, they have limited time to walk in, make their purchase, and walk back to class. They leave as quickly as they come.

I see a student from last semester. I want to call him John but I do not think that is his English name. I ask him what sort of snack he is eating. He has something not pre-packaged. He tells me that it is cinnamon. I grab it. I see Amy, another student from last term. She says ‘hi’. At the cash register, she tells me 3 yuan when I ask how much my snack costs. The cashier just smiles. She cannot speak English. I count out the money in change and hand it to the cashier.

John (who is not John) is walking ahead. I catch up with him. I ask him if he is going on a school outing on Monday. He tells me no and looks at me oddly.

I unwrap my food find which when I have unwrapped it I realize it is not cinnamon at all. It is some sort of wrap which does not involve cinnamon. I bite into it and I am actually pleasantly surprised. I have found an okay chicken wrap. I tell John (who is not John) that it is delicious. He agrees. Fur Elise plays as we walk into the building. This clicks the ‘go to class’ mechanism in his head. He runs to class. I walk up the stairs eating my chicken.


Post a Comment

<< Home