These signs are definitely targeted at foreigners.
I finally accomplished my first “gaijin smash” (The willfull breaking of Japanese convention rules by one who is not Japanese) and were it not for my dear friend Tak I would never have realized what I had done.
Let me set the scene for you.
It’s a typical Friday night in Tokyo, I just finished teaching a private lesson during which I was asked out to dinner. Tak, Matt and a few others were having some drinks in Shibuya and I was on my way to join them when my phone battery dies. In any other city in the world this probably wouldn’t such a bad thing but when you’re in Tokyo and aren’t sure where your friends are or where you’re suppose to meet said friends, it’s a HUGE deal. The most recent communication I had with Tak was that we were meeting in front of Hachiko statue (the most popular meeting spot in Shibuya). I arrive at Shibuya station and search for Tak, he’s nowhere to be found. Of course, I must mention that I was late arriving, quelle suprise, so chances are they’ve already headed to the destination. I waited a few more minutes and decided to find a pay phone (they actually have pay phones in Tokyo, weird eh?). Luckily I copied down Taks number before my phone died. I’m not really sure how much it costs to make a call on a Japanese pay phone and they don’t indicate the cost either just the it accepts 10 and 100 coins. Just my luck I have no 100 coins and only 3 10 coins. So that’s not going to work. Before opting for the pay phone option I contemplated asking a fellow gaijin for the use of their phone but like all gaijins here I like to avoid talking to other gaijins. Being a foreigner makes you develop a sort of “holier than thou” attitude when it comes to other gaijins in the same country. (See “Stuff White People Like“)
OK so. I refuse to ask someone for the use of their phone, I have no money for the pay phone, what am I going to do. Then the lightbulb goes off. “There’s a koban (police box), they probably have a phone, I’m going to go ask them to use it.” So without the slightest hesitation, into the koban I head, “Sumimasen, ah phone ah arimasuka?” which is basically “excuse me, do you have a phone?” I can speak better Japanese than this, but I was in a hurry and didn’t want to think. I then proceeded to explain (in broken English) that my phone died and I needed to make a call. The older gentlemen went into another room and brought out a cell phone, at this point I’m thinking that he thinks I lost my phone and he’s giving me one that was turned in. Turns out that wasn’t true. He then asks me (in broken English) if I needed him to make the call, I was like “watashi” (me) and he passed me the phone. I got a hold of Tak, thanked the nice police man for the phone and left. Once I met up with Tak and he put my recent actions into perspective I realized what I did was kind of an asshole thing to do. Fuck, it wasn’t even an emergency and I didn’t care.
That same night I stole Halloween decorations from the Hub. “Sumimasen, baka gaijin desu!” (Excuse me. I’m a stupid foreigner).
I have a lot more to talk about but they have nothing to do with anything mentioned here and would probably take away from the awesomeness of this post.
Until next time,