Friday, April 18, 2008

Not Even Thinking

A couple of days ago, I did something (without even thinking) that I would not have dreamed of doing in the States:

I let some guy in the house.

Chris and I were both home sick, with Chris asleep upstairs (ensconced in the bedroom with four boxes of tissue, two bags of cough drops, a fully-loaded humidifer and sixteen pillows to prop him up) and I was dozing on the couch.

The doorbell rings. I look out and it is, unsuprisingly, some Japanese guy. I wave him through the gates and he says something about checking the propane (our stove is a gas stove modified for LP use, the heat for the house is kerosene). I didn't even think to ask for a badge or other identifying document or anything. (Later there would be a form to sign as always, that was proof right then, but I digress) so I let him in the house, led him to the kitchen, showed him the stove and went back into the living room. Leaving him alone in my kitchen with several really sharp Weusthoff knives, access to the rest of the house, etc.

My biggest concern? That my house was messy. It wasn't - I may not be good at much but I am ace at housekeeping (Sylvia will verify this, you can ask her about the time she came to visit while I was in the middle of cleaning and I wouldn't let her in).

So the safety audit was done with a machine that actually looked like a cross between a geiger counter and a seismograph and no leaks, no contaminants, no radon, carbon dioxide, et cetera were found. I (and Chris) were also NOT murdered in some gruesome manner and then because Japanese neighbors are very private, not found for three weeks and as a result eaten (or at least chewed pretty good) by the cat. But nope. It's amazing safe here and I've come to take that for granted, which is probably a little dangerous and/or lacking in situational awareness on my part.

Oh, the safety check itself took about 15 minutes.

I exchange a few pleasantries in Japanese with the guy, much his delight, then showed him out and it wasn't until a few days later that I realized what I had done. I had just let some dude in my house without being suspicious or concerned in the least. I am sure there are still places in the US where you can do this and there are certainly places in Japan where you CANNOT do this, but still.

So here are some other things that I do that I probably should stop doing because it wouldn't fly in the states:

Run into the store to grab a drink/snack with the car unlocked and the keys in the ignition and the engine running. Actually I shouldn't do this because it's a small thing but helps the enviroment.

Nap upstairs in my house, with the front door open (actually, the screen door is shut, but it's a slider, like that's gonna thwart anyone)

Go running at 10pm on unlit back roads, without a cell phone, mace, Desert Eagle, flares, etc.

Leave my shopping basket with my wallet in it in aisle three while I scoot back to aisle 9 to grab the bottle of shoyu (soy) sauce that I forgot to get when I was first in aisle 9.

Leave my wallet on a bench in an arcade and expect to get everything back (see the Morioka entry-click on the pic to get the story from Flickr).

Leave the house unlocked (often with the front door OPEN) if I run to the store to get shoyu.

Leave the keys in the unlocked car when they're parked at home.

Some neat but too-specialized-to-be-useful-anywhere-but-here I have acquired since living here:

The ability to carry on an entire conversation just using the words good, yes, I understand and sorry, interspersed with head nods and grunts. Seriously, this is even how the Japanese do it.

The ability to perform a proper bow of appropriate politeness (about 20 degrees) during my running workout.

The ability to eat soup with chopsticks.

How to use a squat toilet without:
Falling IN the damn thing
Blowing out my knees
Soiling my clothes

How to wear kimono!

Access to the arcane knowledge all Japanese ladies possess that will allow them to Macguyver themselves out of any situation and/or save the world by using the contents of their designer handbags:
Cell phone
55 packets of tissues
3 bottles of hand sanitizer
1 compact full of expensive makeup

How to walk in the middle of the road, completely oblivious because the cars here will not TRY to run you down.

How to remember to ALWAYS carry and umbrella and pop it open at the mere sight of a teeny gray cloud (more so in Tokyo) AND the understanding of Old Edo umbrella manners - you tip the umbrella to your outside, so that the other umbrella-bearing person (who will also tip his brolly to the outside) walking past you on the sidewalk can get by without having your runoff dumped on him and vice-versa. Believe it or not, I learned this from a subway poster (the Edo Tilt, not Always Carry an Umbrella)

How to properly stow a futon (after you properly air it, dummy).

How use a fancy washlet toilet (it took a pretty serious lesson, though).

I am sure I am forgetting some of my other specialized skills but I think that should do it for now.


I just remembered:

I can read Katakana, Hiragana and some kanji!

I can take off my shoes by telekinesis (seriously, it's so second nature, I don't even consciously do it).

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