Yeah… not quite. But, today is the official H1N1 cleaning day at Triumbundhit School in Lamlukka, Thailand. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, there are no classes. Basically, the idea is that everyone comes in and cleans their own sector of responsibility; as a result, the whole school can be sanitized in a quick and efficient manner. The logic stops there.
Cengiz and I arrived at 7:30am, as per usual, to find nary a soul in sight. Most of the school proceeded to shuffle in, one by one or two by two, over the next hour; and, after punching in, promptly leave. The kitchen wasn’t open, so everyone went down the road to get breakfast. We had already eaten, so we sat around in the office… waiting… for… Well, anyway, at around 9:00am, we were overcome with senselessness. A man cannot reconcile this much worthlessness. So, we commandeered a filthy, shedding broom and mop and the tiniest drop of soap and got to work. Rags were most valuable on the cleaning supplies black market so Cengiz went at the windows with Windex and balled up newspaper while I mopped the floor 5 times. Due to the lack of proper mopping utensils (two buckets, a way to wring the mop, etc) I was basically still pushing dirt around on the fifth attempt. I decided that the job was done.
During the cleaning we pondered many a quaint and curious topic of philosophy: from proper modern burial technique, to drug trafficking and the socio-economic gap in America, and finally to the actual level of danger of H1N1 (or other diseases) at Triumbundhit. How practical was a full on scrub down once every semester in an open air school? In a school where bugs, birds, and dogs live not only in every classroom, but in the area where food is prepared. Does the natural biome of Lamlukka Thailand protect against the common cold and other malicious bacterium since there are natural methods of decomposition and no central air system recycling contaminated air? Does a bi-daily cleaning of the kitchen area and thorough cooking of all food keep us safe from the elements that the area is exposed to each night? Is Cengiz in real danger as a chicken pockless teacher exposed daily to kids systematically falling victim to the malady? Who knows. It certainly is nice to smell synthetic cleaning agents though!
It’s 10:30am, so we turn to the real work for the rest of the day. Computers are importing video for editing, two others are uploading ready episodes, this one is busy updating the blog, and we have my netbook readied with Sopranos Season 5 to relax to after lunch. We are here until 4:30, so creativity will be tested and Homer’s “Odyssey” is in danger of a lethal assault on its content once this post is up. Why we are at the school from 7:30-4:30 when it took all of an hour to clean our classroom is a bit of a tough obligation to wrap your head around; but, future teachers or visitors, this is Thailand. Given the progress of everyone else here, their top cleaning speed, and the amount of cleaning supplies the school has- this will very probably take the rest of the them the rest of the day. It seems to be some sort of bonding ritual here- one we observed during the preparations for Christmas as well. The staff spends the day (from 7:30-3:30) loitering around, consuming valuable calories for the imminent work induced depletion of energy, making coffee runs, socializing, slowly preparing to do work, and undoubtably (though this is unconfirmed) discussing how to go about things; then, at 3:30 they get down to it until about 5:00, when it becomes apparent things are unfinishable. At this stage they call in some low wage laborers to finish up while they “supervise” and play soccer to blow off steam. Ah, the grind.