The school where I teach every day is 60 years old, and it shows. The outside is looking worse for wear, the aged facade blotched with grime. The concrete walls are marbled by cracks resealed with concrete, reminders of large earthquakes in years past. Dust rolls like tumbleweeds through the halls, even after daily cleaning time. The place is so drafty that you might as well hold class outside, it wouldn’t make much difference.
The upside is that the classrooms and halls are full of natural light and a killer view of the mountains. I think back to the serious lack of windows and nasty fluorescent lights in my middle and high schools back in the States…I’d rather freeze/sweat to death in the sunlight than experience that again.
For the past two weeks, we’ve been enduring the constant interruption of drilling, hammering, and noisy workers meandering up and down the halls during class. After 60 years, our school is finally getting it’s first upgrade. The bathrooms are being remodeled.
Being the old school that it is, we of course have been stuck with the good old squatty-potties thus far. Although I have grown accustomed to them over the years, they are no more pleasant an experience, only a practice in tolerance.
But when I arrived at school this morning, among the pile of papers on my desk was an outline of what the new bathrooms will look like, and within that outline I saw it; the smooth lid, the fancy control panel on the side…one of Japan’s greatest modern technological gifts to the world, the washlette. Three settings for bum-washing and water temperature, heated seats, self-cleaning systems…all those bells and whistles are great, but simply having somewhere to park your bum is the greatest gift of all.
I have never been so excited about a toilet in my life.