Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the day of the Explanation.

This morning, again, I woke with a start. The time was 6:50 am, as usual. For a moment, I panicked thinking I had overslept and class had begun 5 minutes before. Quickly, I showered and dressed. I was out of the flat by 7:10.

Later, in the morning, I knew I would come back to the flat to have my coffee since I had only one class in the morning, this morning.

A gray day awaited me. Summer's over. The scooter boys manned their posts at the scooter shop. What time do they get there in the morning? - I wondered this as I told them hello.

On to school, two students greeted me at the gate. This meant I was on time and maybe somewhat early. The gate greeting is a custom. Two students, a different pair each day, sentry style, greet the teachers as they come through the school gates. I smiled and said hello as I walked past.

I grabbed the students essays, class 3, and headed to class when Fur Elise ended. Class 3 are on the 2nd floor. On the steps, I wondered if I would make it to the 2nd floor before Davy Crockett played. I did. I was walking down the 2nd floor corridor as Davy Crockett started. I walked into class before it ended as did other teachers. We all shuffled into out respective classrooms like rats finding their cheese.

In class, we talked about the sea monster of course. I asked if anyone wanted to go on the expedition with me. Most of the students do not want to go. Half of the students do not believe the sea monster exists. They told me there is not enough 'evidence.' That is what one of the boys wrote on the blackboard. I told him 'concrete evidence' would be a better term. There is evidence. There is not concrete evidence.

Others do believe in the sea monster but then of course this faction tends to believe in E.T. as well. Oh well, I do have a few on my side. I try to give both sides the benefit of the doubt.

After class, I had a coffee in the school coffee bar, for a month or so, the coffee machine has been broken. This does not affect most of the teachers. Most of them drink tea or orange juice. Since the server at the bar does not speak English, I assumed that the coffee machine would stay broken. Fixing a broken coffee machine does not seem like it would be a top priority. However, Markus asked her about it on Monday when we went and had our coffee after we had eaten yet another mystery meal at the canteen.

From what he told me that she told him, the powers that be put the coffee machine in the repair shop and that the one that is there at the moment is the one they are using in the interim. Of course, now it is broken as well so there is no coffee to be had. Except, there is a clause (if we want to call it a clause) of sorts, there is coffee if you are one of the first people to get to the bar in the morning because this broken machine makes two cups before it rests for the rest of the day. I think it might be the coffee machine from the Island of Misfit Toys

On the day of the explanation, I ordered a Pepsi ice cream float instead which I have had before at the coffee bar and they are always a bit of a letdown because the Pepsi is room temperature when it is poured over the ice cream.

Naturally, I had it in my head that I would be the first one in the morning - the next morning, Tuesday - to have coffee. That is how i would get one of the two cups of coffee that the coffee machine deemed to make. This was starting to have a Willy Wonka weirdness to it.

So the next morning after my 7:45 class which is over at 8:25, I went straight to the coffee bar, thinking for some numb-skull reason, that there would be a long line to get into this coffee bar that is usually completely empty except at lunch when teachers come to smoke and play cards.

Yes, this is not America. The smoking is bizarre. I have seen teachers walking down the corridors smoking cigarettes before. I feel as if I have tele-ported back in time or to another dimension or planet at times.

At 8:25 or a few minutes later, when I arrived, the coffee bar was closed. 8:30 is when the coffee bar opens in the morning. I went to my office and read an essay or two and then I headed back down to the coffee bar. When I got there, it was open. I walked in and told the woman 'Coffee' which is the same in Chinese as it is in English. She pushed the button on the machine and it made a few grunts and decided to go back to sleep. On this day, it refused to make even two cups.

Maybe this is not a coffee machine from the Island of Misfit Toys; maybe this is actually a coffee machine from the Flintstones and there is a prehistoric narcoleptic squirrel in the machine innards who wakes but then falls back into a slumber every time his services are needed. Thus, no services are rendered.

At this point, the process becomes secretive and covert. With her eyes, the server swore me to secrecy. She looked to the door to see if anyone was coming. We were all alone. I started feeling nervous and slightly excited. What we were about to do was naughty and against the rules. I started to feel a bit faint. “Mrs Robinson...”

Now, the server pulled it out and used it. She put it into the private grinder that was not associated with the coffee maker's built-in grinder. Out of this private grinder, she pulled out the ground coffee and put it into something that looked much like a pregnant test-tube.

For some reason, I expected Mr. Cox, my 9th grade biology teacher to walk in and help us with this making coffee with a Bunsen Burner experiment. Mr. Cox was an ace with the fire extinguisher. Susan Compton, (the last name has been changed to protect the idiotic) who was a stoner without the reefer and seemed to be fond of her own newly developed breasts - 9th grade breasts, caught her desk, all the papers that were on her desk, and even her sandals - which were fortunately not on her feet – on fire.

Mr. Cox, who to our 9th grade minds seemed well past retirement age, looked up from helping some of the smarter more adept students in the front of the class, saw the fire that was rapidly spreading on and around Susan's desk, grabbed the fire extinguisher and sprinted back putting the fire out before it engulfed more than the papers and Susan's sandals.

At the time, I would have guessed Mr. Cox was 90 years old though he was probably only 55. I am sure his years of teaching rowdy, hormone-crazy junior high kids aged him prematurely. Although I had horrible marks in his class, I remember he was a kind man. Most of us in the class deserved to be beaten severely by him.

While the Chinese Empress of the XiangMing High School Coffee Bar was making my coffee in this crazy Oriental Bunsen Burner, I thought of Mr. Cox and I wondered if this is how he made his coffee in those mornings in the late 1960s and the dawn of the 1970s when the American youth seemed so much more promising and so much less dangerous.

And then, upon further reflection, I realized, at that time, the American youth were looked upon by cranky old men like me as much more dangerous and uncontrollable with their demonstrating and flag burning and hair growing and dope smoking and free loving. For the love of Pete, they listened to Cactus, Country Joe and the Fish and Canned Heat. That says nothing but danger. Mrs. Robinson...


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