I overcame the huge temptation this morning to make up an excuse and call in sick. The rain is back. It doesn't let up. It's gray. Without a clock, you can't tell if it is morning or evening. I have four classes Tuesday mornings with my junior students. I really didn't want to teach four classes this morning with my junior students.
But I didn't call in sick. I obeyed my alarm when it went off at 6:45 a.m. I took my morning coffee and hauled ass -- umbrella-less -- to the dining hall where I was met with a mob of students and had to wait 10 minutes for my bowl of noodles. By the time I got my breakfast, most people had finished eating and I had to suck down my noodles and again haul ass to the junior department building on the other side of the school campus.
When I reached the third floor, I tried the office door but it was locked. A teacher saw me and said, "The students have testing this morning, so --"
"So I don't have classes," I finished her sentence.
Of course. The foreign teacher is out of the loop. Again. This certainly isn't the first time I've been notified after the fact.
"Do I have to make up the classes?" I asked. The teacher suggested I ask Mr. Wu on the fourth floor. Up another story, I entered the office and asked, "Do I have to make up classes?"
Mr. Wu was not in the office, but two other teachers were there. I already knew the answer to my question. One teacher said, "No, you don't."
On my way out of the junior department, I ran into Mr. Duan, another English teacher.
"Oh, I'm sorry. We forgot to tell you," he said immediately when he saw me. The Chinese expression he said first was, "bu hao yisi," which literally translates into feeling embarrassed but is the Chinese way of saying, "Sorry."
So I headed back the way I came, through the rain and gray. I could have stayed in bed. I could have avoided getting wet and gross. I went through my usual thoughts of cursing the school officials for never thinking to inform me that I do or don't have class.
But halfway back to my apartment -- I'm quite wet at this point -- I had a wonderful thought: Soy hot chocolate. Yes, that is how I will enjoy the morning. Really, I shouldn't be pissed at all. I have four free hours that I thought I did not have. Yes, it would have been nice to know, say, last night. But I guess this way it's a surprise.
Living in China is the embodiment of the phrase, "Expect the unexpected." Except I never expect the unexpected. I expect plans to be carried out. I expect people to be on time. I expect things said will be true a few days from now. Usually the unexpected is bad news: You missed the train by 10 minutes and now you have to wait four hours. You have to teach classes on Saturday from now on. The bus drivers are on strike. In these moments, I always calm myself with thoughts of, "Well, it could be worse." Thankfully there are still trains running today. Thankfully I still get a weeklong vacation every month. Thankfully I can still grab a taxi.
And, thankfully, this time the unexpected was good. So this morning -- more caffeinated than I need to be -- I will take a hot shower, make my hot chocolate and soak up a good book. I would've been in my warm apartment anyways had I called in sick, but I'm glad I followed through with my plan. This way I get a reminder that nothing -- especially nothing in China -- is for certain.