Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another sign of autumn in Tokyo

As I was purchasing the December issue of Mountain and Valley (Yama-to-keikoku) I was just a bit worried to see that the young lady at the register was busy wiping her runny nose. I suppose that I should have been somewhat pleased that at least she was using a tissue, but her bright red nose and face made me wonder if I should just forget the purchase and leave. Why should I pay for a virus when I am usually given them for free?

As I got to the register, I was relieved when another clerk appeared and accepted the magazine. Whew! Close call, I thought---until I found that she was only going to put it in a bag and ol' Rudolph was going to ring it up, take my money and give me change and snot.

As she told me the total in a fully blocked nasal passage voice that seemed to shout "Severely infectious! Danger! Stay away!", I searched in vain for the correct change. I could not find it. I would have to accept it from her freshly mucous-coated hands.

Damn. Should I just tell her to keep the change, grab the magazine and run? No, this is Japan and that would be unheard of and probably rude on my part. I had to bear the unbearable and accept both the change and the germs from her. Couldn't be helped. Wouldn't want her to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed or anything.

After avoiding touching much of anything on the walk home, I took out my keys (must sterilize keys) and opened the door. (Bleach the handle later.) I immediately turned on the hot water, waited the 1-2 minutes for hot water to actually reach the faucet, and scalded, soaped and scrubbed my hands for at least a minute. Now I have to wonder if I will catch her little gift. Sure glad she came to work today. Thank you Kumazawa book store for having her there too.

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