Over the holidays I developed a bit of an irrational fear of leaving my house due to the calls of “foreigner foreigner, everybody look!” that I’d receive when I went to the grocery store to buy milk or bread or beer (you know, the essentials).
I guess because usually when it’s holiday time I leave the country (I remember why I do that now), so I’ve never really experienced shopping in the grocery store with all the old ladies and old men during the weekday who never see me because I’m trapped in the freezing cold staff room of a junior high school. Usually the grocery store runs occur at 8:57 pm right before it closes and I run through and there’s almost no one else in the store and I am in and out in 3 minutes. But the first weekday of my holiday I thought I’d go midday like a normal (read: old) person and do my shopping for the week. The stares and the non-whispers (I could hear them shouting “FOREIGNER LOOK!” at their spouse, but their spouse couldn’t. Joy). Them stopping in their tracks if I came down an aisle. I couldn’t move around them because they’ve got their cart and they’re taking up the whole aisle and they’re to petrified to move. Or they want to talk to you. Some guy asked me where I was from them gave me a speech about how he can make different kinds of water, such as water to wash your hair, water to drink, water to do your dishes, and water to wash your face. Then he gave me his business card. That sounds like its about a 2-3 minute conversation right? Nope, try about 15. He spoke to me for 15 mintues. He knew how rude he was though becasue before he started talking he said “well this is rude but HELLO” and then continued on his speech about water in Japanese. Then he said “OK DONE FINISH YOUR SHOPPING”. It was really a lot. I started to dread having to go there whenever I knew it would be busy.
So Friday night comes along. My usual scene, walking down Okaido (the main road thingy) to meet friends for dinner and karaoke. Drunken businessmen all about the streets. Usually their shenanigans doesn’t bother me but after all the incidents with the old people in the grocery store I had hit my limit with the “lets stare and point at the foreigner” for the week.
“HELLO” shouts follow us wherever we go. “HOW ARE YOU I AM HAPPY THANK YOU SEE YOU”. It really gets old fast and I have hit my limit with pretending to smile and nod.
Anyway, it’s no longer holidays and I can’t not leave my bed for the whole day anymore so on I’m my way to work this morning and stopping at a convenience store to grab lunch for later (overcoming my fear of the grocery store by going to the convenience store). Sure enough there’s two old men in there who just have to come talk to me as I decide which salad I want to buy.
“HELLO. OH SORRY. HELLO”
I dont say anything. The guy calls over his friend and tells him to say something to me in English.
“HELLO. HOW ARE YOU?”
I just ignore them because its 7:30 on a Monday morning and I wanted to die even before they began this unsolicited harassment.
“OK THEN SORRY”
At which point I (without looking at them) say: “Ok, goodbye.”
And they laugh and laugh and follow me around the store until I buy my stuff and leave. This is real life people. I don’t even have to make it up.
Then, cycling up the giant hill on my way to work I got hit by a car because why not? There was a car stopped at the top of the hill, as I was cycling up it and both of us can’t fit on this tiny road despite it being a two way street. He’s waiting up there and I’m almost at the top when a car to the right looks at the car at the top of the hill, assumes he’s stopped for him, doesn’t bother checking to see if anyone is coming up the hill and whips out like he’s in a race to beat him and just hits the front tire of my bicycle. Fortunately I wasn’t going very fast because its a big hill and I’m pretty out of shape despite having to do this almost every day. But he panics of course because I’m not Japanese and oh god what if I start speaking to him in non-Japanese-language and then what if somehow he catches my foreignness like a disease? I just get off my bicycle and continue up the hill. Just another day in the life.
And with that it is back to work for me. No students until Wednesday but here I am. Remembered my kindle today though so will be reading “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” all day. Guess I can’t complain about that, still gettin’ paid.
Happy New Year to all.