Thursday, August 20, 2009

Maintaining my sanity and healthy mind

It was not an especially good day. Yes, I (always somewhat surprisingly) survived my early morning bike ride with only one near accident with an absolute idiot, but the fact that I was even out riding would make me the 2nd absolute idiot.

Later I got on my train and it was empty enough that I could even sit. Not only could I sit, I could do so without the gal or guy next to me nodding off repeatedly on my shoulder. Nobody had their cheap, tinny-sounding, earphones listening to what sounds like a cat-fight in a garbage can on either. No one coughed or sneezed on me, and nobody got a chance to push or shove me or cut me off when I exited.

It was beginning to look like a nice day made nicer by the fact that I would not be doing this mind-numbing job tomorrow, but I had to drop by The Office. While in the lobby while waiting for the World's Slowest Elevator to go from the 2nd floor to the 3rd---for some reason, that seems to be the only place where I am never in a hurry---two the of the women who work on the mysterious Fourth Floor joined me.

The Fourth Floor is where the Big Guys work. They wear very expensive suits and have nicely styled hair. One fellow has a Koizumi-type mop, but somehow lacks Lobo's charisma. He is sorta like a combination of John Kerry and AlGore with Koizumi hair. Don't know what The Big Guys do exactly, but I do know that they retired many moons ago from the parent company and were sent down to guide us and help absorb all the extra money that would otherwise be spent on raises, bonuses, updating our OS from Windows 2000, the occasional implementation of a new idea, and other such waste.

Anyway, the gals from The Fourth Floor informed me that a foreigner on the 3rd---the peon floor---had caught the New Flu. Oh goody! Apparently he had been coughing for a few days and finally went to the hospital where they diagnosed Swine Flu. I immediately thought of Ms. U who has been coughing since January, usually from the desk across from mine, pausing only to scream into the telephone. (Ms. U does not understand the purpose of a phone. She talks loud enough on one that if she were to open a window and use the same volume, she could make an international call to the US using only her mouth.) Then I remembered that Ms. U is neither a man nor a foreigner.

When I got to the third floor I excitedly inquired about the wonderful news. No, it seems it was not a foreigner, but a Japanese guy who might have swine flu. Well, I could understand the mistake made by the gals from the Fourth Floor, 'cause you'd expect that a foreigner would be the one to infect the office, and not the other way around.

Still, the news made me a little hesitant about hanging around the contaminated office. (Using the keyboards makes you want to cut your fingertips off afterward as a sanitary measure. I once took mine apart to clean it which convinced everyone that I was even more whacked than rumored.) I decided to cut the visit short, but was unable to escape before the scheduler saw me and asked me to wait. Sure. Anything for you Ms. Y so that you don't get pissed and try to screw me yet again.

While waiting, I decided to read an article from the Christian Science Monitor that I had found earlier through a link posted at Shisaku. After reading the article I became a bit perplexed:

"How should Japan maintain its political and economic independence and protect its national interest when caught between the United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world's dominant power, and China, which is seeking ways to become dominant? This is a question of concern not only to Japan but also to the small and medium-sized nations in Asia. They want the military power of the US to function effectively for the stability of the region but want to restrain US political and economic excesses." [Emphasis mine]

Maintain its political and economic independence? Don't you have to have something in order to maintain it? And I am quite touched to learn that the nations of Asia want the US to continue to send the less financially well off of its young men and women and its tax money to stabilize an area that either no other country/countries can or else have more sense than to try. Since Hatoyama wants an "equal relationship" with the US though, perhaps Japan will contribute 50/50 in money and military for this.

Then I remembered that it had been pointed out on the Shisaku post that Hatoyama's article had all the weight of chicken feathers or something to that effect, so I decided to just wait and see what Yukio actually does rather than worry about what he says he will do. Besides, Ms. Y had come back to happily inform me that I would get to take an all expenses paid trip to Saitama in early September.

Normal folks do not consider Saitama close to where I live, but she did. "Oh, it's only about 30 minutes from Shinjuku by the Shonan line!" Since I don't live in Shinjuku, and since she knows I don't live in Shinjuku, I knew that it was quite far away and a lot of trouble to get to. She always mentions some station other than the one which I will be departing from when the destination is very far away. She thinks it makes me think that it is closer. Or perhaps she thinks that I am too dumb to add the time from my home to Shinjuku and figure out that it ain't really 30 minutes away.

But the train home from Otemachi later in the evening proved to be about normal. I was first in line and found an empty seat (an end seat too!) and was able to slip right into it without being pushed, shoved, kicked, bit, or cut off. There was no fragrance of ripe armpits, garlic-and-sake-laced breath, no constant sniffing of the runny nose, no cough-in-the face---I was feeling pretty smug about my prize.

Of course, it was not to be. The young girl beside me had her damned cat-fight-in-the-garbage-can tunes leaking through her cheap-ass earphones. (Naturally, they couldn't have been made in Japan.) Tried to ignore. Could not. Got up and moved across the aisle into my favored protected area beside the door. I could still hear the thing. Everyone else acted like they couldn't.

A guy got on at the next stop and took the seat. I watched. Within a minute he turned and looked directly at her. He said nothing. Just a hard stare that lasted maybe two seconds. She did not look back at him, but just after he looked away, she opened her purse and turned off her noise-maker.

I have tried that. It never works for me.

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