A chip on my shoulder?

Reason2Write,the founder and creative genius behind one of my favorite blogs has gone ahead and given me a reason to write. (-; She has tasked me to think of alternative explanations for why SOME Japanese people behave the way they do towards me. Racism, and its virtually identical twin sister, xenophobia, as well as other forms of negativity, are not allowed.

I must admit, this task gave me considerable pause (thus the long delay in my responding to it- all apologies) but nevertheless here is the result:

I park my bike in the bicycle parking lot near the station. Today there was a bike jam at the entrance…apparently someone had called in sick or something and the lot was understaffed for the morning rush…I waited patiently for the line to advance so I could pay my 150 yen and be on my way. The person ahead of me glanced around and noticed me behind him. Gave me a double take. Then his eyes faced forward again but all of his other sensory perception was still focused on me…I could see his black eyes peering around the corner of his face like a fish. I guess people really are what they eat. Then suddenly he apparently decided the line was longer than he was in the mood to tolerate, so he hopped on his bike and took off.

I watched him race across the street to the competing parking lot where there was also a line to enter…he stole glances back across the street in my direction while he waited. I glanced behind me to see the reaction of the people back there to his behavior. There was no one behind me. There had been several people back there last time I looked. I wondered where they’d disappeared to.

As each person ahead of me paid the staff directed them politely and verbally to where they should park their bikes. When it was my turn he took my money and pointed to the area.

“Asoko desu ka?” I asked to make him aware that he didn’t have to use curt body language to communicate with me…He responded with a thrust of his finger and dismissively, and a little disgustedly, turned away. 

I took a deep breath, repeated my daily litany of patience and rode my bike to the designated area. The man who had been ahead of the man who had fled to the parking lot across the street was still there, locking his bike. He glanced at me, and was so shocked that he dropped his keys near my feet. He bent down to pick them up but not wanting to cast his eyes on me again for some reason reached down to pick them up with his head looking in the opposite direction, grasping for them blindly like if he was doing all of this in the dark. He kept missing them. So, I bent down and picked them up for him.

“Hai, douzo,” I said handing them to him. He took them without looking and mumbled something that sounded like ‘thank you’ but might as well have been ‘Oh my God, he touched them…I’d better clean them before I contract something dreadful’  if his body language was any indication of his thoughts.

At the station, a local train was just about to leave. The express, which I take daily, would arrive in 2 minutes, so I was able to be the second person on line. During that 2 minute wait all of the lines along the platform extended from one side of the platform to the other, some as long as 12 people…that is, except my line. No one lined up behind me. 

I took it in stride.

The express train arrived and as usual it was already crowded. As the train slowed to a stop the people on board the train nearest the door I was to enter through were now facing me. A number of them collectively freaked out…as the door opened they, men and women, darted and shoved to areas of the car as far as they could away from the door…which wasn’t far due to the density of the car. However, what had looked to be packed tight enough to pulverize a boulder suddenly became as spacious as a walk-in closet. So, I walked in. The walk in closet moved with me, when I turned left, it did too. When I changed my mind, just for fun, and turned right it shifted right as well. It’s kind of funny to see because the people forming this closet appear to be unaware of my presence or of the closet. They look off into space or at their cell phone or at the head of the person in front of them, or at anything but me. All around the closet’s perimeter boulders are still being pulverized.

Suddenly someone was shoved into me, but hard, and something that had resided on my shoulder fell to the train’s floor. I instinctively reached to pick it up, assuming it was something important, but upon seeing what it was I practically knocked three people over leaping away from it.

It was a cockroach, about  4 inches long.

I fled off the train…holding myself, shaking, wondering how long had it been there.

6 years maybe?




7 Responses to “A chip on my shoulder?”

  1. 1 LostXcausE
    May 18, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Wow……didn’t see that coming…aha.

  2. May 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Haha damn man… I totally ‘believe’ you in the intellectual sense, but.. I almost have to see this in person one day to accept it as metaphysical reality in the sensory sense… just, you know, because I have never ever observed Japanese acting weird around me at all. Hard to imagine.

    This all reminds me of a thought I once had when my dad commented on living forever in another country. Having lived as a kid in Nicaragua, he told me ‘in the end you’re going to get sick of them never accepting you, and you’re going to want to come home to somewhere where you are just normal and can be accepted’. I didn’t respond, but immediately I thought about just how wrong that statement could potentially be.

    I don’t know how well the “place I come from” accepts foreigners because I’ve unfortunately never had the chance to be one there for a day. But what if they were just as bad about it (so I’ll use an example IMO not too bad) as some other place (say Japan)? Then in that case, the only reason I’m being treated ‘well’ in America is by virtue of the fact that I accidentally happened to be born there. Had the accident of birth placed me in some other country, I would have the same gripes with America as I might with Japan. Thus being in either place, I’m living amongst an equal number of assholes — just in one of them I’m totally unaware of which people deep down in their heart of hearts is an asshole, because they don’t show their asshole face to me. In that case — wouldn’t it be better to live as a foreigner and see the true colors of the people around you?

  3. 3 XO
    May 19, 2009 at 2:17 am


    It is absolutely irrelevant that there are assholes in other countries. We are here, and this blog is about the sufferation of people here. We are trying to make our lives better, and Europeans or Americans acting badly to immigrants does not negate or diminish the legitimacy of the chip on his shoulder. So, no I would not assume that being treated fairly in my country is as bad as being humiliated day after day here. And if there are immigrants in those countries that are being treated this badly, they also should resist it, and I am sure they do.

  4. 4 fudgepudge
    May 19, 2009 at 3:02 am

    yo loco,

    you need to see something that allegedly runs absolutely counter to what you might have thought of japanese..


  5. May 20, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    seriously Loco – that rocked! Your writing is great and the humor shows through – minus the edge – although I like the edge a lot, it was nice to see the other side! Thanks for accepting the challenge – but why not a grasshopper????? hee hee! I am so glad you are writing again! I am off to the US for two months but I will be following while I am there – this should be interesting – rediscovering America – we can compare notes! Great post!

    • May 21, 2009 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks Reason2, you inspire me! (-; Knowing you’re out there waiting and reading keeps me pumped. Anyway, have a wonderful and safe trip back to the States and brace yourself for impact!! Can’t wait to hear / read your stories!


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