Wednesdays are one of my easiest days at work; very few classes, and the first one doesn’t even start until 5PM. This week was especially lucky since I ended up only teaching two classes all day; one a kids class and the other a low-level adult class that had speeches today, meaning that I could sit back and listen to people talk about their most embarrassing moment. And just for reference, I taught my students “crotch area” today and wrote it on the board for them. They eagerly scribbled it down in their books for future use. One of the guys needed it for his speech, so I had to tell them. I decided that would be a good phrase as opposed to “around the junk” or “down in my special place.”
During the 1-5PM spread that I had, there really wasn’t anything for me to do. Sure, I suppose I could have done stuff like plan the week’s lessons, help my school, clean stuff, or fill out counseling forms, but let’s be serious. Basically I spent a good 4 hours either talking to Matt about video games, walking around in circles, or using my cell phone to play on Gmail, Facebook, and Mixi. Those three are of course the top bookmarks on my phone’s browser. To be honest, I wasn’t completely useless during the first half of work; I managed to write some stuff down and also planned that kids class. Please note that by “planned that kids class,” I mean “printed out a lesson plan from the computer, and laminated a calendar.” It was a good morning overall, and a good change from Saturdays or Tuesdays, my two busiest days where I teach somewhere between 5 and 7 classes throughout the day and have very little time to check Facebook mobile to see who from high school got married, or to poke people back in never-ending poke wars.
At one point during the morning, I opened my top right desk drawer. I don’t remember what I was rummaging for. It might have been the calendar to see when my next vacation was (note: forever away), or it could have been a post-it note to doodle on. For some reason or another, I opened the drawer all the way and spotted at the back of it a familiar looking document; a post-card sized thing with Japanese written all over it as well as my name. Crap. It was my water bill. The one that was sent to me in January. I examined it, and also opened up the two other bills that were sitting at the front of the desk drawer, which I had received last week. The two new ones were water and sewage. The water bill was actually the second notice, with the first notice/regular bill being the one that was jammed in the back of the drawer. I panicked for a second, thinking I had forgotten this important document and I could either be stuck with a huge fine or would wake up the next morning and find out my apartment was as water-less as the Sahara.
I stroll into the staff room, where everyone was just hanging out because there were almost no classes in the early afternoon today. I ask one of my co-workers to double check the bills, confirming that I indeed had an unpaid bill and a second warning notice about said unpaid bill. To my surprise, he also informed me that in Japan, they won’t charge you any fines or anything for paying your bills late. As long as it’s not like a year or so late, you won’t get any fines for being a lazy jerk about paying your dues. I can’t imagine this ever happening in America, since every utility company would be out of business. Although Japan doesn’t charge any fines, I’m willing to bet that almost 90% of people pay their bills on time. Japanese people are just that good.
Well, most of them are. As my co-worker was telling me about the lack of fines, we strolled into his office/classroom and he pulls out of his briefcase a handful of bills. He started reading off the due dates, with most of them being earlier in the month. Oops! We later walked to 7-11 to get some lunch, each of us with a handful of bills to pay before we got our food. Remember? In Japan you can pay your bills with cash at the convenience store. I paid my water and sewage bills like a good citizen, and he only paid about half of them, because he didn’t have enough money. Anyways, for all you people living in Japan, it looks like you don’t have to worry about paying your bills on time. I haven’t 100% confirmed this, but a Japanese person’s word is good enough for me. Also note that I paid some bills late a few months ago, and never saw anything about fines or charges on my later bills. I think it must be true!