Today was Emergency Preparedness Day at one of my elementary schools. As far as cultural exchanges go some things are exactly the same no matter where you go in the world… And other things will throw you for a loop.
Lock the kids and pregnant teachers in the gym? Check. Have the two tallest, strongest looking male teachers guard the gym with “weapons”? Check. Kill the lights and cover the windows? Check and check. Send administrative staff to pitchfork the intruder…? Check…
Let’s just say I was not very prepared about the Japanese version of Emergency Preparedness Day.
If you have seen the picture up above and are a) not terribly surprised to imagine your coworkers pitch forking a local police officer as part of training and b) not taking copious amounts of photos as they proceed to quite literally drag said police officer to the genkan with full force… then you are most likely Japanese or have been to a Renaissance fair as a pitchfork wielding peasant.
In any case, let us say that as far as ordinary days goes this one included pitch forking along with the banal lesson planning and coffee runs to keep awake.
Since they forgot to warn me about the fire drill two months ago (which wouldn’t have needed explaining anyhow because blaring lights and sirens are international lingo for GTFO), my coworkers were more than excited to constantly remind me about the “Intruder Drill” (insert knowing smiley face and wink). Are you familiar with those, they ask, do you know intruder drills?
The great nation of ‘Merica in all her infinite wisdom has allowed some outrageous guns and weapons to be sold across Walmart/sports supply stores nationwide and the right of ‘Merican citizens to own said weapons of self destruction are enshrined as natural rights in the Second Amendment. I grew up in Chino (home to the men’s state prison) and have also attended school during my formative years in LA county. Do I know emergency and intruder drills? Pshaw. We can do them in our sleep, I thought to myself. I got this, I said.
And then they bring out the pitchforks. And that’s when I realized I wasn’t in SoCal anymore.
Let me tell you, they really put up a fight. The police officers did not go easy on anyone and there were a couple times I thought the “intruder” was going to win. Literally, it could not have been more appropriate to start chanting “Fight, fight, fight” at work. Watching my shy, reserved coworkers break out into survival samurai mode was also quite the experience. But at least I now know that quite luckily I’ve got some pretty fit coworkers who can handle intense situations.
So. Moral of the story: never be without your pitchfork and expect anything to happen on Emergency Preparedness Day.