Oh, there have been so many, but let's just go with my first few days in Small-Town Japan. I'd ridden trains for five hours from Tokyo to Small Town (we'll call it Komura), and by the time I finally got there, I was tired and feeling rather isolated. I had instructions to go to a particular hotel, where I had a room reserved by my company. Unfortunately, being new in town, I had no idea where it was, even with a map. I wandered around a bit and finally just bit the bullet and asked a woman at a nearby fish market where the hotel was. She spoke about as much English as I speak Japanese, but she got what I was asking after. Rather than pointing me the way, she quickly finished loading up her delivery truck, invited me to take the passenger seat and drove me to the hotel. Domo arigato!
After I'd gotten settled in the hotel room (total fleabag hotel, by the way; the company had no clue of just how bad it was, as I later learned), I started feeling really lonely and homesick. I called the head of my local branch just to check in and say I was in Komura and everything had gone smoothly. He seemed to sense how I was feeling, and shortly after I hung up, he called again to say the other ALT in town wanted to know if it was all right to visit me--in other words, he called her to let her know I was there. I gladly accepted the offer, and she turned up bearing Calpis (a very odd Japanese soft drink that's a bit like chalky-tasting Sprite and has yogurt in it) for us both to sample. Later, she told me she was worried her visit had been an imposition. I assured her it was the opposite, and I was so glad of her company that evening. She and I have since become good friends.
Next day, we were both very busy as our company-hired helper took us around to our schools and boards of education and also started the process of getting me settled in. By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted, still badly jet-lagged, and homesick. I must've looked pretty bad, because when the helper and I stopped in at the real estate office to get my apartment keys, instead of offering us tea (absolutely de rigeur in Japan), the agent plopped a vitamin drink in front of me, bless him. That didn't stop me from bursting into tears on the way to my apartment when I found out I wouldn't have a phone or Internet access there, and I really wanted to communicate with my family. My helper, lovely woman that she is, called my company, and next thing I know, they're telling me I can wait another couple of days to get into my apartment, because they're putting me up in a much nicer hotel for the weekend. I tried saying it wasn't necessary, but my boss told me he understood completely how I was feeling, and they wanted me to get some rest and relax before plowing into my job come Monday. He told me to go to the hotel, contact my family, get some sleep and get my feet under me. All on the company's dime. Oh, and they shelled out for me to have breakfast at the hotel each morning, too.
Is it any wonder I love my job?
I'm loving these stories. Keep 'em coming!