I had two simple tasks to do today.
1) Go to the village office and add a room to a previous booking at the community centre.
2) Go to said community centre and see what resources come with the room- chairs and tables and stuff.
Easy peasy Japanesey, right?
Ohhhhh how I wish!
Well, I went to city hall and asked about the room. Sorry, the man in charge of bookings isn't here. Please come back tomorrow.
Could you just tell me if the room is available?
Sure. So the man who was the man who doesn't take bookings went and got a file and opened it and then sat down at a computer and clicked through to a bookings page. Why doesn't it surprise me that everything is done in duplicate and on paper to boot?
The room is available.
I was half hoping that he would say 'Hey, while I'm here shall I pencil your name in?' but of course that didn't happen....
No problem, this is the country and I am used to how things work so I'll go back tomorrow morning.
OK, on to task 2. I went over to the community centre to count tables and stuff.
The guy in the caretakers office was making an instant coffee when I arrived. (blergghh!)
Just a moment.
Why not, hey?
I explained that I had a booking for Saturday and just wanted to check what was in the room.
He looks at the 'Today's bookings' board and sees that there is no booking there and then the calendar to check today isn't Saturday.
Yes. I just want to see how many tables and things there are. Can I just go in and see?
He gets the master keys and we walk over to the room at what can only be described as an amble.
You used to use meeting room 1 didn't you?
Yes, about two years ago but I used to teach here every Friday.
We get in and he points out in the gloom that the storage room is over there. I ask if I can turn the lights on and he agrees that's a good idea. The storage room is unlit but in the gloaming we manage to get a rough count.
I ask about a PA system. I have been to events that use a microphone in this room but don't know what the PA system looks like. Can we hook a computer up? How many mikes? How many speakers?
We turn off the lights and lock the door and amble back to the office.
I'm invited in and invited to sit down. It's toasty warm and as long as I'm not offered a cup of instant coffee this is rather nice.
Rather nice but I am worrying a bit that it seems like I am being set up for a long wait and I don't have that much time....
The caretaker picks up a microphone from a shelf and hands it to me to look at.
Yup. It's a mike with an off and on button. Check.
I ask if there are just the three mikes.
Three? Just this one.
I ask what is in the two mike shaped bags next to where this mike was?
We open them and find two more mikes.
The mikes have to be booked separately. Would I like to book them.
Fukase- Fuka as in deep and se as in inlet.
I know I don't look like a Fukase and I know that Fukase is an unusual name around these parts anyway but it does kind of grate when people seem so incredulous when I explain my name. Oh well.
We ascertain that yes, I would like to book the speaker system as well. I can't believe that these have to be booked separately but hey, who am I to wonder, hey?
Could I see the speaker system?
Hmmm..... just a moment and he'll call city hall to find out where it is.
In the north west storage cupboard.
We worked out where that is direction-wise.
It wasn't there.
He called again to confirm.
We looked again.
It still wasn't there.
He called AGAIN and it turned out the woman on the other end of the phone was some relation of one of my students and the man I was dealing with at the community centre was the Grandpa of another of my students in the same class. We had this whole conversation while my guy was on the phone to the city hall of course. Small freaky world here in Azusagawa! This was all a nice coincidence and I did the necessary 'I'm always indebted to you' greeting for people who I work for (however distant the connection is...) but it wasn't finding me a speaker system...
Anyway, it was all very nice sitting here in the toasty room chewing the fat with a student's grandpa but I really had to go by now so I said that if there was no problem and the PA system magically appeared I would just pick it up from the office Saturday morning but if there was a problem please call me ASAP and asked if he wanted my number or could he get it from my booking at the village hall.
He looked confused and said surely his daughter knows my number?
And I'm sure she wants to be involved in my booking too, right?
I didn't say that of course but explained that she had the school number but not mine.
This was looking like it was going to lead to another long explanation explain and i really really had to go so I said yes, please ask my students' mother to contact the school number if there is a problem.
Poor guy. I feel a bit bad that I used up so much of his time and then left before he could give me an answer but I had been there 40 minutes by now...
That instant coffee is going to be stone cold. Double blergh! Poor guy...
I did a lot of bowing and thankyou-ing.
And I'll be back tomorrow morning for round two.
Send me strength!