The work of an ALT is never done-- lately, in my out of class hours, I've been writing a presentation on very short notice for a prefectural sectional meeting scheduled for Friday, as dark rumors swirl about the fellow-- an acquaintance of mine-- who was planning to do the talk in the first place. Supposedly he walked to a doctor's office feeling a bit under the weather, and ended up being IV'd and ambulanced straight over to the hospital. Familiar as I am with the Japanese medical establishment's taste for billable inpatient care (1) I doubt he's exactly at Death's door, but dead or alive, he's not going to make it out on Friday.
Heaving a sigh, therefore, I give you a brief update:
Recall to mind Espressoda, the bargain bottle of coffee-pop I picked up on a lark at Amano. Doubtless you had some notions of what a coffee flavored soda might taste like. Perhaps a pleasant Kahlua-type aroma? Or perhaps you remembered my previous comments on Japanese coffee and expected something a bit less like coffee but not altogether unpalatable? Or did you fear the worst?
I assure you, whatever you guessed, your expectations fell far short of the truth. Espressoda ranks near to the top of the scale as possibly the vilest anything I have ever drunk. There are undoubtedly actual poisons that taste less disgusting. Imagine the worst coffee you've ever had: maybe the acid dioxin tang of singed truck-stop robusta, brewed before sunrise, and cold the next day in a styrofoam cup. Boil down a gallon of the stuff till it's thick and gritty and sweeten it with a twist of antifreeze. Serve on the rocks with club soda. Now imagine a concentrated jab of that flavor right where it hurts.
It should say something that I didn't even think to take a picture of the open bottle before throwing it away. Adventure finds me again. Maybe next time, I'll go for THE PUNGENCY!
 Not to mention injections, which loom disproportionately large in the popular mind. Things have officially Gotten Serious when the patient gets A Shot in Japanese media, and as far as I can tell, real doctors seem to be doing their best to keep up. Whenever sick coworkers are mentioned in the teacher's lounge, their condition is informally judged by how many injections they've gotten, and when I showed up to the nurse's office at AIU with an itchy (but relatively minor) allergic reaction, she couldn't stop talking about all the needles I was probably going to get jabbed with as she shooed me off to specialist care. (Thank goodness she was wrong!)