Normally when I get a cold I just lay in bed for a few days and wait for it to pass. Colds come, and they go. But this time, I feel so angry! I know exactly why I'm sick: the head of staff at my school has a computer next to the one I use, and he was coughing on me this whole week.
In other words, I'm sick because a stupid sick person refused to just go home! Why the heck do they insist on working?
I know the answer to that one. It's because they're Japanese. Japanese people never stop working--they're given way too much stuff to do. The head of staff, like the vice principal, typically works from 7 in the morning to 8 at night. He is fairly high up the administrative ladder as well as teaching a full course load. Even regular teachers have so many administrative duties that they typically work from about 7 to 6, and the ones who supervise the sports work from 7 to 7. They have too much to do to go home earlier. Pretty much all of my Japanesr friends who aren't retired work from about 9 to 9 or 10. So even if they officially have sick leave, Japanese workers pretty much aren't allowed to go home.
My classrooms are emptying out now, and I'm sure that the absentee rate would quarter if the parents would just let their kids stay home too. I see kids looking like death every day, kids going through lots of tissues, kids who just can't stop coughing. I see kids with rings of empty desks around them. I'm sure that plenty of my sick kids wanted to stay home, but their parents just didn't believe them when they said they didn't feel good. Or, being Japanese, maybe they believe that anything short of malaria or a norovirus, probably at the same time, doesn't warrant a day off.
I know this problem isn't unique to Japan, but given the whole culture of overwork, I think it's especially bad here. But it's so stupid! Don't people know that if they just force themselves to work when they're sick, not only will it hurt their recovery, but they'll also spread disease and force everyone else to deal with the bug too? Don't the parents realize that if they send their kids to school sick, they'll encourage whatever bug to become an epidemic? Potentially spreadng to the teachers and thereby lowering the quality of instruction? Do the parents realize how little goes into your head if you're struggling with a cold?
I know I'll be taking Monday off. I got the gift that keeps on giving, but I'm not going to pass it on if I can help it.