Monday, 26 December 2011
No, I will not meet your friend visiting Tokyo...
No, my story's not as interesting as the one in the picture, which would at least give me something to 'dine out on' for the decades I've got left. I wouldn't even tell the story if it was not so common: Gaijin wastes my time.
A mutual friend of twenty years asks me to meet up with this compatriot when he visits here. As a favour to her, of course, but it's not like most people are interesting, so I do not especially anticipate it. However, he asks for some advice travelling here and there, by email, and I am glad to spend some time giving him what information and opinions I have so he can make the best of it.
This morning, Boxing Day, we were meant to meet in Shimokitazawa just before lunch, which is a fifty minute ride from where I live. I get there; he's not. I text him, because it's not hard for a noob to get lost in a Japanese train station, and I get a response that he's slept in, and an apology. I have no time for apologies, giving them or receiving them. They are something both Japanese and Canadians do more often than brush their teeth. And as a 'lapsed Catholic', I don't believe in forgiveness... but I still believe in penance: 'Rem non spem querit amicus'*. If I'd done it to him, I'd be telling him dinner was on my tab. If not for his sake, but for the value of the friendship with our mutual friend.
So I can tell him all of that. I can tell him that a Japanese person would have made the appointment hung-over or not, which he likely was. I could point out that Japanese do not forget appointments, which is another possibility for him, and this largely endears their other compulsive behaviours. Except, I'm never going to see this guy again, and westerners will never listen to anything that attacks the myth of their own self-importance. He asked if we can meet later, at the end of his rambling apology. My answer: 'no'.
I'm a married guy with a kid, been sick for two days, and not in a mood to be dicked around. I don't know if he got the laconic answer because I couldn't be bothered (except I am writing all this...), I want to keep the mutual friend, or I'm just too tired, but better he got the short than the long answer.
*Deeds, not promises, make friendship. - Seneca
That is the full value of a year of university Latin.