*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Conflicted Samaritan.

The other day I am walking through the Tokyo neighbourhood of the school that employs me. I come across a young white guy talking to two Yakult women. They're giving directions in rapid Japanese, and he's not getting it. Not sure how much he'd got out of that, I asked him if he knew where he was going. He admits his Japanese is basic, and he knows no more than to go left, and that he's looking for a particular embassy.

I know where that embassy is; one day lost I came across its fortified compound, incongruously in the middle of our quiet neighbourhood. I also knew he would not find it unaided. I told him I had some time, and I'd been in his shoes often enough in Tokyo: lost. I'd walk him there. I didn't think much about his business-casual outfit, or why he'd be going to that embassy, but I should have. I assumed he was an English teacher looking to get a visa for some discount R&R travel, though he did not look like a pot-smoker... He could pass for a child-molester, so let that be a clue to the embassy.

In our short walk he asks me more questions than I ask him, but I am vain enough not to wonder why he's leaving the talk to me. It's only after I let him go that a few things become clear to me: he's lived in Japan exactly one year, he's going to a disadvantaged country, he's likely not an English teacher, not an expat nor international school teacher, he looks like he's never had a real drink, and he has a Hollywood-Western accent. He's a fucking Mormon! These people, like all missionaries I have met, find the vulnerable and prey on them. Why have I, a Gaijin, been bothered by more Mormons, Mahikari and Soka-Gakkai than the Japanese are in Japan? Why is my wife similarly harassed in Canada? Lonely foreigners are vulnerable, as are the poor, which explains his destination.

If I'd known he was a Mormon I would have told him, "You're on your own." I'd help a missionary find medical-aid, the train station, or a koban, but I'll have no part in proselytisation. Eighteen years in an RC house has made me a tolerant atheist, but an outspoken enemy of 'righteousness' (hypocrisy). So you may say I have done a 'good deed', but given the subject, it wasn't.


  1. I've been bothered by Christian missionaries near a major station in Nagoya before. I avoid them like they're zombies from Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation). The virus is still trying to spread!

  2. Kind of reminds of a time when a lad mentioned something about speculation around the Salamander Letters. Nice post.