Making the grade in Yokohama

He boarded the train and scanned for a free seat, spotting only one, the one beside me. I was reading a book, conspicuously paying him no mind at all while indirectly, peripherally, watching his every move.

He approached the seat beside me cautiously, glancing around as if praying that another free seat would reveal itself. None did. Gingerly, painfully slow, like a deer might take a sip of water at a watering hole frequented by predators, like a man plagued by flaming hemorrhoids, he placed himself into it, watching me intensely out of the side of his head like he was expecting something unexpected to happen…what? I have no idea, but definitely something deadly.

I was on his right. He crossed his right leg over his left and leaned his body left, away from me, as if making contact with me could be the trigger to unleash that deadly action he just knew was pending.

I  flagrantly turned the page of my book, rustling it loudly, and smiled at the words on the page, continuing my act of being totally taken with my book and unaware of any of this.

The train jolted a bit sliding him closer to me. He noticed it, and returned to minimum safe distance with a sharp scoot and resumed his lean. I’m sure he bumped the person on his left side. That doesn’t augur well, I thought but suppressed my disappointment and faux-focused on the pages before me while surreptitiously scanning the car.  The people across the aisle from us were watching him and I. Several of them had passed on his seat previously and seemed to be curious as to whether they had judged me correctly. His clear discomfort confirmed their suspicions: Though I apparently pose  no immediate harm, it would still be impossible to relax beside me. They had chosen wisely.

Oh well. At least he’d sat down.

I whipped out my pad and wrote in it: C. Thought again, and added a “+”.

C+. Not bad.

Surprisingly, a few seconds later, he began to relax and his thigh came to rest against my thigh.


Actual touching, especially unnecessarily, would raise my grade to a B…a B+ if he could manage to eschew the state of alarm he’d been in since taking the seat. But, he didn’t seem the type so I thought I must have been imagining things. I glanced over at our thighs to investigate, turning my head ever so slightly…


He noticed my glance and scooted away again, his body language suggesting that it had been unwittingly done and that he was full of remorse, with a subtle hint of my god, what have I done… type panic in his gesticulations, but that might have been my imagination. I was about to whip out my pad again and change it back to a C when he got up and walked to the end of the car, scanned around like he wasn’t sure which way he wanted to go and then slid the door open and went into the next car.

F. Fuck!

That’s the third “F” this month.

Then I whipped out my long list of ways I can make the grade in Yokohama and added: don’t conspicuously acknowledge ANYthing the natives do.




11 Responses to “Making the grade in Yokohama”

  1. 1 Eddie
    December 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Man…… I am gonna be honest….. That shit seems like it gets old after a while. I wonder how they would feel if they visited America and they were treated as if they were Adolf Hitler. I know not every Japanese person is like this but still. It irritates me. I work at the airport so we meet many kinds of people from all over the world. Most of the guys that I have met that are from japan seem a little odd. I say hello welcome to Borders and they just look at me for 1 second, then they go back to looking at key chains. Some of the Japanese dudes have said hello or have gave me a nod. However most just seem like are nervous and scared. You would think they were eating lunch at the table in prison or something. The women are different, most of them will talk if I try to make conversation or they will at least say hello. How do you stay so optimistic? There has got to be days when you are like “Man.. I should have stayed my ass in New York”. I like Japan just like any other country but this just makes me angry. If you are human and they are human, why do they treat you differently. Here comes a personal question, do you hang out with any Japanese friends after work? Also sorry for the long post I just had to express how I felt. Peace

    • December 1, 2009 at 1:29 pm

      Eddie-san, feel free to get it out. I think I have created a place where if you got it you can let it out here. You’ve come to the right place. As long as it isn’t over the top I’ll give you clearance. Yes, it does get old doesn’t it. I gotta tell you, though, if you can’t feel it in some of my posts, I kinda find ways to amuse myself in order to endure. Inventing little mind games and shit that distract me from how reallllly disgusting much of the shit i see is.
      As far as your personal question, No, i don’t hang out with any Japanese afterwork…usually. I write, and thank god this is something I can do without any companionship. (-: And to be honest I can’t take most of my co-workers and their total inability to forget I’m foreigner or to remember I’ve been here 6 years already so they need not ask me “do you drink Japanese beer?” or “Do you like Japanese food?” But they still do every time like I just arrived here this morning. Yes, you said it, it gets really old.
      I guess in my writing i trry to find refreshing and inventive and hopefully entertaining ways to describe it. Sometimes I fail…sometimes I succeed, but ask any writer: this is a trial and error thing.
      anyway, sorry for the long response, but occasionally I like to put a reader on blast so he can know that his words are not falling on deaf ears.
      Thanks again for the shout! (-;

  2. December 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    You’re black.
    They were apprehensive because of your race’s propensity to violence. If you were Mexican they would be thinking your about to bust out the spray paint and start taggin’ shit right in-front of them. If you were a Jew they’d expect your eyes to be low scannin’ the floor for dropped change and if you were Puerto rican they’d be expecting some spontaneous west side story rendition. Of course the Japanese would be stumbling over themselves to take pictures of any one of those events and we know that their yellow skin is an indicator of their obvious lack of a spinal cord so they would do nothing more than take pics. Am I stereotyping here? 😉

    On a side note..I just got my brass knuckles..O.K ..chrome (belt buckle with fake removable buckle pin) delivered in the mail. Thank you lazy custom f___ers!! Merry Christmas to me 🙂

    • December 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm

      That’s funny! I thought about Joe Pesci in “Lethal Weapon 2” when he and Danny Glover were at the South African embassy discussing travel to SA and the employee said “But but but You’re black!”
      As for the other stereotypes you dropped, I doubt if Japanese are even up on them. sometimes I get the feeling that (with some of them) their fear of me has nothing to do with stereotypes…it’s something much deeper, something profound. anway, CB,thanks for the shout as usual. Becareful with that gift…don’t hurt nobody, unless they got it coming to them 😉

  3. 5 Qcue
    December 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Chris B, When Japanese see a non-black foreigner all they see is a Haku-jin until they get to know them personally. However you gave me a new word to add to my vocab, “propensity”…..so I gotta thank you for reminding me to read more. You must be new to this blog because there have been other people like you in the past who posted similar comments. Personally, it is well documented how society view us black people. I need not to get into detail and/or I rather not convince people such as you to discard your impression. Your comment was biased, elementary and racist(your choice). It’s as if you were trying to tell LOCO about himself. I see why he mentioned be careful with that gift…….

  4. December 2, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    “I rather not convince people such as you to discard your impression. Your comment was biased, elementary and racist(your choice).”

    God damn!! I seriously just read your comment 4X cuz I thought you were f___ing with me??
    I appreciate the fact that you waited till line #6 to pin the racist tag on me though. You got bent and typed too fast without thinking. I thought it had SARCASM written all over it and the O.P. knew that. I can’t hesitate for people that can’t see the forest through the trees cuz something is jammin’ their eyes…or mind.

    Yeah, I had to reach into the “way back” machine for some of them. The Mexican one shows it’s age since now they got some of the most violent gangs to ever “bang”. I bet their neighbors wish they were only carrying spray paint 😉

    **If your not a Mexican gang banger or a neighbor of one then it wasn’t about you so RELAX :)**

  5. 7 Qcue
    December 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I must have just overreacted…hahaha, well said Chris.

  6. December 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Again? This must feel like enough already.

  7. 9 Cedric Domani
    December 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Ha!Ha! I’m going to start keeping grades too! That’s hilarious!
    Do what i do…you know how they pretend to be “sleeping” when they sit across from you? I pretend to be sleeping too and all of a sudden…in a creepy kind of way I just pop my eyes open and see who’s been staring….the embarassed look on some of these faces are priceless.
    You got to have a sense of humor to live in Japan. No doubt.
    Oh, and get a white friend too, it helps them relax a bit. They figure…”If that black guy hasn’t brutally robbed and killed that white guy, he must be safe”. 🙂

    @ Chris B: we kind of figured you were being sarcastic. funny stuff.


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