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Amparo Bertram

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06:25 pm: Fire drill
Today we had a fire drill at the end of classes. There was a handout on my desk explaining the procedure and listing what things to do when the drill announcement came. What do you suppose the top items on the list were? You'd think something like "remain calm" or "file from the room in an orderly fashion" would be up there, right?

1. Turn off the lights.
2. Close the windows.

I stared at that for a while. Finally I asked the teacher next to me, "Aren't you supposed to leave the building as quickly as possible when there's a fire? Why would you go around shutting all the windows first?"

She had to ask other teachers. Apparently it's to prevent the fire from growing or spreading. She assured me that we don't have to close the windows for earthquake drills.

After the drill, the English club freshmen came over to my apartment. The upperclass students had some kind of tutoring session and couldn't come...though they told me, never fear, they'll come some other time. It was actually a good thing they couldn't make it, because with 11 students and me, my living room was packed as it was. I had a bunch of drinks ready and a carrot cake I baked yesterday. (It vanished almost instantly.) They sat around and chatted until nearly 6pm. (They would occasionally toss in an English word for appearances' sake.)

When I checked my mail, I found that the clothing store I visited over the weekend sent me a handwritten postcard. It thanked me for shopping there and "modeling" the kimono and encouraged me to continue practicing wearing Japanese traditional outfits. It also said that when my yukata is finished, I should put it on and come visit so they can see me in it.

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Comments

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From:basicblack
Date:May 2nd, 2005 08:22 am (UTC)
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Wow, the clothing store sound like they were very taken with you. Obviously you made a good impression. :)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:May 2nd, 2005 01:06 pm (UTC)
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Obviously you made a good impression. :)

I honestly don't know how I did so, other than just being foreign. Well, and interested in kimono. Otherwise, I was just some windblown small-time customer. I can understand giving special service to someone who actually buys a kimono, but I just got a couple accessories. <wonders if they send postcards to everyone>
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From:amilyn
Date:May 2nd, 2005 09:54 am (UTC)
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Japan is, indeed...different.

I sent evil_overlord to your journal, btw; she's a big all-things-japanese fangirl and an old friend.

The closing of the windows, though, DOES make sense. I'm married to someone who worked as a fire fighter and while "GET OUT NOW" is tremendously, hugely important, it can make or break fire fighting efforts to have complete control over where the fire can and does vent (by breaking only the windows you WANT to).

I'm still of the opinion that "GET OUT NOW" should be the first priority, but if you can lose only ONE second and get the windows closed and make the fire fighters safer AND improve chances for saving more of the building? Well...I can see that.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:May 2nd, 2005 01:37 pm (UTC)
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but if you can lose only ONE second and get the windows closed and make the fire fighters safer AND improve chances for saving more of the building? Well...I can see that.

That does make sense. Especially in this school, where you not only have to wait to file out the door anyway, you have to stop and change your shoes in front of the doorway.

No, there were no such instructions as "in a real emergency, evacuate without changing your shoes." The Japanese are just that obsessed about shoes.
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From:amilyn
Date:May 2nd, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
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*snicker* re: shoes

All it'll take is a bunch of kids dying before reality becomes at least PART of that equation...

*sigh*
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:May 2nd, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)
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All it'll take is a bunch of kids dying before reality becomes at least PART of that equation...

The sad thing is...they'd probably consider such a tragedy inevitable.

I direct your attention to:
The clean floor is more important than your life?!
[User Picture]
From:amilyn
Date:May 2nd, 2005 09:55 am (UTC)
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The clothing store thing is REALLY cool, btw. And the kids loving to come over and eat baked goods...isn't that fun? I LOVE having my kids over for that.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:May 2nd, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC)
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And the kids loving to come over and eat baked goods...isn't that fun? I LOVE having my kids over for that.

I just wish my living room were bigger. If the entire club ever comes over, I'll have to host them in the hobby room. At least that would certainly give them something to talk about...
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From:megory
Date:May 2nd, 2005 12:16 pm (UTC)

Same here.

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You know, that was the same way we were taught to conduct fire drills in 1970. I never heard differently. In an average class, no time is actually lost, because the students nearest the windows close them, while the students nearer the door begin to file out. They don't miss a beat because otherwise, they would just be standing in line waiting to leave, anyway. The last one out turns off the light, and I make sure the door is locked while the students are leaving. We were told that it is a sign to the firefighters to see the windows shut and the lights off that everyone got out of that room. It also slows the spread of the fire.

What an awesome store. That is really personal customer attention. I think they will truly be happy to see your yukata when it's done.

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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:May 2nd, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Same here.

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You know, that was the same way we were taught to conduct fire drills in 1970. I never heard differently.

Hmm...I don't recall ever hearing about such a thing in all my high school fire drills.

I think they will truly be happy to see your yukata when it's done.

Except there's no way I'm biking all the way across town wearing a yukata. They just aren't made for that kind of activity. There's even less of a chance that I'd walk, since it's so darn far.
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From:mvrdrk
Date:May 2nd, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Same here.

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Yes to closing windows. Fire is drawn to new sources of air and if you open your classroom door while your windows are open, you effectively lure the fire towards you.
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