19
Nov
08

Acts of Retaliation #1: Retaliation Day

The following occurred three years ago…

I’m in the back of a long line waiting for the next train. It’s actually a pair of parallel lines before the position where each door will eventually be. The woman directly across from me glances my direction a number of times and looks very uncomfortable about where she may wind up once we board this train. How do I know? Let’s just say i know from experience. I watch these fuckers everyday. They’re as predictable as those crows that go through my trash. She decides she doesn’t want to risk it and switches to another line. When she arrives at the rear of that line she glances over at me to confirm she has a minimum safe distance.

I choose her. Actually she selected herself.

Once she’s focused on the arriving train I switch lines, too. Thinking she has left the danger behind she doesn’t notice me pull up behind the man behind her. The train pulls into the station. It’s crowded. The man behind her glances back at me, then gives me the gaijin double take. I steady myself. He fisheyes me and then rubbernecks me again, and then his cowardliness gets the best of him and he bolts to another line, glancing back to make sure he isn’t being followed. I wish I could do him too, motherfucker, but she has first dibs.

The outgoing passengers have exited the train and the procession begins towards the doors. Now, I’m behind the woman that had switched lines. By the time she reaches the train the car is full. The next train is a full five minutes a way. She’s thinking, it’s this one or else, I can read in her body langauge. She decides to board and peeks behind her as she enters to see who’s there.

It’s me, baby!

Suddenly she shifts gears, she is going to enter this train and get as far away from me as possible, no matter who she has to go through to do so. Everyone facing the door has seen all of this going down. They see her, they see me, they see her reaction to me, they share her feelings: everyone of them. I can see it. I can feel it. The tension in the bodies around me. The effort not to look at me marks me as the draw of all their attention as much as staring at me would. She burrows into this mass of alertness and fear. A hole opens in the mass and snaps shut behind her, like a vagina. I’ve seen this hundreds of times before. Usually I grit my teeth and bear it, or pretend not to see it, or convince myself that ignoring it is in my best interest.

But, not today. Today, we will have none of that. Today, it is entirely unacceptable.

Today is Retaliation Day!

I shift gears, too. I thrust into the mob, but the mob resists. I thrust again against this wall. It gives a little than snaps back. I can feel briefcases and stiff shoulders pretending to be innocuous but forcing against me. A surge of rage infused adrenalin seeps into my veins and I violently slash through a weak point, some high school boy not as vigilant as the salarymen. I almost stumble with the give he allowed and I find myself right behind the woman. She is doing something with her cellphone, looking relaxed. She thinks she has escaped me. I reach over her head for the handle and in doing so purposely brush my elbow through her long black hair. She glances up at my hand and she sees it’s brown…not Japanese. She jerks her head around to find me up against her. Smiling.

“Good Morning!” I say. “Nice day, isn’t it?”

She’s mortified. Good!

“Can’t you speak English? No? Well, my Japanese sucks. You do know good morning don’t you?”

She smiles and smiles and moves her hair out of her face over and over and starts to shake a bit and looks like she’s about two seconds from having a conniption so I lay off. I feel somewhat satisfied. That’ll teach her ass, I hope. And, if not, fuck it, it felt good.

A shoulder rams me a bit harder than the rocking of the train would justify so I look around to see the back of a salaryman’s head. He wants to assault me, perhaps to avenge this woman’s embarrassment but he doesn’t have the balls to face me. I turn away from her and direct my attention to him. He fisheyes me and realizes that he has drawn my attention away from her.

“Good Morning to you too, motherfucker!” I say.

He peeks at me over his shoulder. Then looks away.

“Yeah, I’m talking to you. Throw your shoulder now, asshole, while I’m looking.”

He turns his whole body so that his back is squarely to me. I want to punch him in the back of his coiffed moussed head but that would be uncalled for, in Japan anyway. In NY, he probably would’ve gotten it already. He has really gotten under my skin.

“Yappari na,” I say. “Omae wa ge– mitai da na!” (Just as I thought, you fucking punk!) I think I’ve said it right.

The train jolts a bit but instead of reaching for the handle closest to me I reach for the one on the other side of this guy in front of me, and in doing so elbow him in the head pretty solidly.

“Gomen nasai, aho,” I say. (I’m sorry, you prick)

He ignores my half-ass apology and pretends to read an advertisement above his head, hanging from the ceiling of the car. Then he shifts to read another ad down the end of the car somewhere then he looks at his watch and searches his pocket for something…and then…Japanese men are a sorry ass site when they get all bumfuckled. I almost felt sorry for him. He is absolutely terrified when in reality he could probably hold his own if not kick my ass in a fight. I’m twice his age and half as healthy and he probably exercises daily and jogs and plays soccer on the weekends and studied Kendo and shit in school…obviously he has a little heart. He had enough heart to shove a shoulder at me. But, alas, he’s pussy! Fuck him.

I get off the next stop and as I do I tap the woman on the shoulder and say, “Bye bye, see you tomorrow, have a nice day!” Then I shove through the crowd like a half-back making a hole for his running back.

Loco

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28 Responses to “Acts of Retaliation #1: Retaliation Day”


  1. November 19, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Your writing is always engaging and passionate. It’s hard not to be struck by the contrast in your last two posts between your rage at Japanese racism and the sense that things may be changing in the U.S. Does this suggest Loco’s now considering returning to the U.S.?

    In Japan, how do you balance the hostile reactions with welcoming interactions, or do you always feel ready to explode? As an American in Japan who’s neither black nor Chinese, I don’t experience anything like that level of hostility, so I am impressed by your ability to thrive here for so many years. Stay strong and keep telling your stories.

  2. November 19, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Wow… you’re a jerk. HAHA BUT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

    Every country is a different challenge. Reminds me of the day I got sick of hearing the “Allow others to get off before boarding, ride in an orderly manner.” Shanghai subway announcement repeated at every station and decided to teach Chinese what the announcement means… by charging full speed through the basically tackle football opposite team’s defensive line and screaming at the top of my lungs while knocking over even the grandmothers fighting to board and to not let me get off. It’s hard to accomplish much with one man and it was a dismal failure, I’ve since taken to fantasizing almost daily what I could do if I could get together enough football defensive line players to cover the breadth of the door way and LITERALLY NOT LET ANYONE BOARD until they had gotten off. If it would happen, it would be the first time in the subway system’s history I’m sure.

  3. 3 Locohama
    November 19, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks again for the shout jared…You do realize that the Home Alteration story line is present day and the About Me series is past?
    Yes, if the economy improves i am considering it. But, no matter where you go there you are, ne. So working on me is priority number 1. WHo says I can balance anything? (-: I can’t even balance my bank account

    Justin, yes I’m a jerk…and i love it too.
    Man I one of these days I gotta get to Shanghai

    loco

  4. 4 jturningpin
    November 19, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    LOL! I see now why you go by “Loco.” 🙂 This post made me giggle like a fiend though.

    Thanks for the kind words on 7:10. Now that I’ve found your blog, I’ll be back.

  5. 5 Locohama
    November 19, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    thanks for popping by JT, and yes, you’ve caught me a strange time…I want to join project mayhem lol.

    Itterrashai

    loco

  6. 6 ItAintEazy
    November 19, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Didn’t sound like you had much of gaijin perimeter going on. I thought they would rather sit next to piles of dog turd than to be crowded up against gaijins.

  7. 7 Locohama
    November 20, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Sometimes it’s unavoidable…either do the turd or Buddha forbid, be late for work…(-:

    Loco

  8. 8 v
    November 20, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I can just hope it is but an entertaining story. If not, well, then you’re a hefty contribution to the problem.

  9. 9 Locohama
    November 20, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I was entertained that’s for sure…and i wasn’t done. mind u it was a just a phase

    loco

  10. 10 Jean
    November 21, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    “It’s me, baby!”

    I haven’t laughed this hard while reading a blog in a while!

  11. 11 Locohama
    November 21, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks Jean, glad to hear it (-: And thanks for the shout!

    Loco

  12. 12 Amy
    November 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Ah I feel the pain of this entry… being a coloured minority as well, I’d be terribly upset all the time feeling like a pariah.. I don’t know how you do it although I guess scenarios like this helps vent the frustration!

  13. 13 Locohama
    December 27, 2008 at 9:57 am

    yes they do!

    Loco

  14. January 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Ugh, dude. If I’d read this post first, I probably wouldn’t have tuned into this blog again, unless just to goggle wide-eyed at the dumb cruelty of your actions and justifications and do my best to decry them. This was just a month ago, yes? You have to stop doing this kind of thing. You act like you scored a victory by terrifying an already terrified woman (read again- a woman, significantly physically weaker than you, and already scared), and by physically assaulting and insulting a man who tried to rescue her.

    Jeez, Loco. Tell me you wouldn’t do this now? If I saw somebody doing this kind of bullying on the train I’d want to beat the crap out of them, doesn’t matter where they’re from or what race they are. You were ‘letting off steam’ – that totally does not fly.

    Please tell me you’re no longer proud of this action, and wouldn’t do it again. You’ve got to be the bigger man about this sort of thing- there is no retaliation possible that would make any kind of sense. The only retaliation would be to act the opposite of what they fear in you.

    Come on!

    • 15 Locohama
      January 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks MJG for the shout, once again!
      At that time I certainly had gotten beyond the point of sympathy for them. I was fed up! Thus I retaliated, albeit in the most impotent of fashion, but it felt good for a while. But, I guess I should have made it clear that this was something that happened in the past, earlier in my tenure here, back before I learned the futility of such behavior. So worry not. I’m still loco but I don’t act out like that anymore. Just thought I’d share with my handful of readers what Japan can do to the mind of those of them who come here with as soft a skin as I had when I did…
      It still vexes me though…I don’t think the woman’s physicality has anything to do with it. She’s not a child so she should be held responsible for her acts and deeds. I just no longer think that I went about in a sane way. And i’m not especially proud.
      I don’t feel the onus should be on me to be “the bigger man.”
      And I can’t be the opposite of what I am. What they fear in me can not be reversed. I will always be 6’0 (god willing) 90 kilos (unless I give up Macdonald’s entirely or pick up Haagen Daz again,) black (unless i pull a Micheal Jackson) and foreign (unless I pull a Jero). Whatever else they fear about me I give them ABSOLUTELY no reason to feel, thus they are beyond my control.

      Loco

  15. January 1, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Fair enough.

    The physicality thing I mention because it’s a physical fear/threat thing. You got in her face, but yeah I can see from your then point of view, she’d already started the fight by singling you out to avoid. I haven’t had that experience, so I suppose I don’t really know how it felt.

    Bigger man stuff, well. I suppose there I’m talking about accepting the futility of this kind of non-constructive retaliation. But- it looks like you know that, so…

    By ‘act the opposite of what they fear in you’ I didn’t mean act the opposite of yourself, unless you ARE a gang-banging nutcase, I just meant act like a cool, calm gentleman, unhustled by this kind of slight- which is the opposite of what they fear. Sure that may not win anybody over- but neither will it make things worse.

  16. 17 Monique
    January 7, 2009 at 1:01 am

    You are HILARIOUS. I hate I clicked on your blog; my school work is calling me and I need to be tending to it but here I am reading you instead. Damn.

  17. January 7, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Hey Monique! Thanks for stopping by. How’s Cali? You better get back to to your school work…I’ll still be here when you’re done (I hope) (-:

    Loco (well, you know…but they don’t) (-;

  18. 19 Tres
    April 15, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Rather than getting stupidly wound up about this to the point of semi-stalking people and shouting at salarymen on trains, why don’t you just fucking leave?

    I have a physical disability, mainly affecting my legs, but also my coordination. I’ve been stared at every day in some form or another since I was a child. I’ve gone through puberty (one of the most awkward times in anyone’s life) in a wheelchair and I’ve been spoken to like I was a retard or had people speak about me to whoever was pushing me as if I wasn’t there.

    It drove me insane from the age of 13 to the age of 17 by which time I’d learned to GET THE FUCK OVER IT.

    I switched from a wheelchair to crutches and started dragging my crippled ass around. I went to Japan in 2005 and 2007 and spent a year there on exchange in 2008. I was stared at 10 times more than I was in my home country, by children, teenagers, salarymen, old ladies, everyone.

    With surveillance that good, there is no way I could have committed a crime and gotten away with it.

    I had the experience of being 知らない顔’d by salarymen on trains who were too lazy to stand up and give me the reserved seats that they’d sprawled all over, even though my legs were almost giving up and I was sweating like I’d run a marathon.

    All of this and I can count on one hand the number of times I honestly found myself annoyed, but at no time did I ever verbally attack someone because of it.

    Do I think it’s right? No. Did I enjoy it? No. But I just chose not to give a fuck.

    But I’m sorry that people stare at you and won’t sit next to you, must be hard having such intolerant conditions in a country you’re living in by choice that you could get rid of just by going back to America.

    Get over it, harden the fuck up, or leave if you don’t like it.

  19. April 15, 2009 at 5:02 am

    first, it was 3 years ago
    second, staring doesn’t bother me
    third, it’s unfortunate the ignorance people have about physically challenged people but its not the same as what I’m talking about…
    It’s actually kind of offensive that you think the two are comparable but I’ve lightened up and I don’t want to argue with you and it looks like you’re spoiling for one…besides if you had read any post aside from this one, especially the more recent ones, half the venom you spewed you would have had second thoughts about I think. And I can definitely se why you’re spoken tyo like a retard…it has nothing to do with your physical disability i assure you. Read on and read carefully before you make your judgements and admonitions please. The only reason I let this through is because I could see you needed to get something off your chest (about your experiences in Japan)…and I can totally identify with that (-:

    loco light and sweet

  20. 21 LostXcausE
    May 8, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Aha. Funny stuff. Retalliation! Attack!Attack! (where ya at? LOLZ)

  21. July 9, 2009 at 4:26 am

    yes, you sure are a Jerk Kevin ha-ha, but can’t bash you to much on the subject cause I am guilty of the same sin also.
    I visited Japan first in mid summer of 2000, was a blast as an experience though a short one. so 2008 marked accomplishing my first dream/goal of living there.
    Wow, aside buildings and stations people sure have changed, the rudeness that now is so prevailing has made even Japanese people take a look at them selves that I even saw an article on the topic quite recently.
    I spent most of my time in the Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and a bit of Shiga, regions and pretty much even probably got to know better around there than average Japanese…so yes I got my good share of what you have written so eloquently, so I think I had my retaliation days quite so often, specially when I got a bit more vocabulary and confidence. I mean I’m not a 6 foot guy, but average height over there a mix of latin-caucasian, so people didn’t feel intimidated but sure carry a very unwelcoming attitude and some even threatening (yes specially yakusoid arsses), but I definitely also have fuel for blood if needed. So that helped me a lot not to let my self esteem get trampled.

    In fact I even learned some interesting stuff on how they also suffer from their own social frivolity. So that was kansai for me quickly, but Tokyo sheesh
    I feel sorry for you kevin (if it weren’t because it has fueled this blog, err and your life 😉 its a whole different trip; people over there are all so stressed, I never got a straight answer when asking for directions, even with a station clerk!
    I saw people run away from me, I think mostly to avoid being questioned also. But that was a good experience because it allowed me to actually understand how to read Tokyo’s rail system map. If there ever was I place I felt I didn’t want to be too long, it was Tokyo. That at least the first couple of times I was there, now I know of course that it can be quite more welcoming if you know where to thread. x3

    A thing that comes to my mind ofcourse is that the current economic crisis is making things worse, as did the previous economic bubble.

    Anyway, now I know that i also let my ego go in hand with my ingnorance, and my lack of real hardwork to vent my frustation and stress in a wrong way.
    So kevin, a word from advice, don’t come back to the U.S. you’ll regret it, and who knows if you may even end up start from 0 again just like me.

    (and this is brief)

  22. 23 T
    October 25, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I like how some of your respondents blame you for a situation caused by the ignorant fear of others.I would have done everything you did except for speaking to the Japanese. On the other hand
    I would have tried to open up a cut on the face of the guy who elbowed me.

  23. 24 amber
    December 10, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    i’d be freakin’ angry if it were me too. in fact, i think i’d retaliate every now and then to vent the anger.

    racism is everywhere, even in a country where i’m staying which promotes the tagline ‘Truly Asia’. racism is so blatant here but it’s unspeakable as u’ll be thrown into jail indefinitely. people other than the indigenous get different treatments, while the the very corrupted indigenous get the cream of the crop of everything, from education, job to land etc. u can’t complain as it’s stated in the constitution since its independence more than 50 years ago. it’s one of the most corrupted countries in Asia.

    i read from another post of yours saying bilingual is good. yeah, i agree. the good thing about where i stay is they don’t stop u from learning your mother tongue and every citizen regardless of their race must learn the national language. so, citizens other than the main race population here know more than 2 languages and dialects.

    i love your blog, really shed some light on the dirty and ugly side of Japan which are not potrayed in any of their doramas and films.

  24. January 21, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I know this is an old article, but I wanted to compliment you on your blog…

    “They’re as predictable as those crows that go through my trash” is one of the best pieces of prose I’ve read in a long time.

    • January 21, 2010 at 5:21 am

      Thank you Jay san!!!

  25. 27 William
    March 25, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I realised, That you and other “none-japanese” teaches them a good lesson in morality. I bet slowly they will learn, My country (Sweden) was very foreign hostile 100 years ago.. or something. But now we have a big ethicity (dunno if I spelled right).
    An interesting thing about Sweden when I read your stories is that if you have a Swedish flag on your house or something you are considered slightly racistic, I wear swedish colored swimshorts at most :).
    As I said I think they need to learn. You are probably learning them and evolving them just by your presence.
    I hope I wont meet racism under my stay (3 months) But if I would, I wouldnt know what to make out of it.
    Great story once again.


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