I didn’t realize it until recently, but my classroom may be the only one in the entire building with an air conditioning unit in it, and a pretty powerful one at that. Granted there are twin units in the teacher’s staff room, but as far as classrooms go, I haven’t seen units in any other classrooms. I consider it a lucky break for me, well, sort of.
Truth be told, I seldom turn on the air conditioning unit. When it’s hot, I open the windows and try to cool down using mother nature’s air conditioner…the breeze. But let’s be honest, on those really hot and humid days, “Mother Nature’s AC” SUCKS!! However, I still try not to use the unit in my classroom. Why?
How can I explain it? Okay, did you ever see the Three Amigos? Well, if you haven’t, you really should, because it’s a comedy classic. Anyway, the three main characters are riding their horses on a long journey in the desert. The sun is mercilessly beating down on them and the three are completely overtaken by thirst. They pull out their canteens for a pretty memorable comedic moment. Steve Martin’s character, Lucky, pulls out his flask, only to produce a few drops of water (just enough to feel the droplets, but not nearly enough to quench his thirst). Poor Martin Short’s character, Ned, gets the worst of it when he pulls out his flask and ends up with a mouthful of sand. Chevy Chase’s character, Dusty, has a flask with more than enough water. He greedily drinks his fill and tosses his canteen on the ground where fresh water continues to gush out. The others look longingly at his canteen spilling water on the desert sand. Chevy Chase, in his classic aloof, comedic fashion, looks at them and says “Lip balm?”
Though not nearly as extreme as Dusty, whenever I turn on my air conditioner, I feel somewhat guilty because none of the other teachers are fortunate to have air conditioning units in their classrooms. I try not to rub it in their faces, but I do use it if it’s getting uncomfortably hot.
Because the temperature has been increasing, the school decided to show mercy on the staff and start turning on the two units in the teacher’s room. ALRIGHT!!
I teach the vast majority of my classes in other teacher’s classrooms, which have no AC, so I feel bad for them. I get to teach classes and go to the English room or the staff room afterwards. The other teachers have full classes (generally between 30 and 40 kids) for the majority of the day. Even with a well-behaved class, that’s a whole lot of body heat to add to the already warm weather. So by not turning on the air, I feel like I’m being part of the team, showing a bit of gaman (がまん or 我慢), which is kind of like the Japanese term for patience or the ability to suffer with my co-workers. It’s really a big part of Japanese culture.
I’m doing fine for now, but I don’t know about the whole “suffering with my co-workers” thing when late July and August roll around; these are Japan’s most dreadfully hot months. When that time comes, the whole gaman business is going right out the window…I won’t be hesitating to turn on the air conditioner.
Judging from the current heat, I think it’s going to be a scorching hot summer, but I’m curious to see just how hot it’s going to get. Last year I experienced Japan’s hottest summer in 100 years! It won’t get that bad…will it?
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