This morning, it was my turn among the roommates to take out the burnable trash (ie. paper, not plastic). I live in a nice little area, in a nice little house, with nice little roommates. Also, the company that I rent from, is also pretty nice (not Sakura House) and they are very attentive. Overall, I have been pretty happy with the exceptional service they have provided.
Anyway, about two months ago the rental office posted a garbage memo in our house that states "Please note the proper drop-off location for this house is down the street, not in front of the building." The memo also included a nice little map with the proper drop-off location highlighted and with arrows surrounding it, to clear up any confusion. So I made a mental not and went on my way....
This morning. I leave the house, trash bag in tow and walk down the hill towards the proper drop-off spot. (sigh) I remember thinking to myself, "yep, that's what I like about Japan. Recycling is mandatory and people are so serious about the trash." Serious indeed....
About 10 steps away from the neatly piled white trashbags with a green net over it, I notice an older gentleman (70s/80s) in pajamas, blue rubber house shoes, and a brown house-coat (the kind that Ced the Entertainer references in one of his comedy routines...) slowly making his way to the trash dump-spot as well. I arrive to the spot first and I neatly place my trash on the pile and politely hold the green netting for my elderly neighbor to place is trash bag there as well.... Then things make a turn for the worse.... Well, not the worse-worse. More like the annoying and irritating-I-know-you-are-NOT-serious-worse.
I was expecting the elderly gentleman to say, "Thanks..." or "Oh, where are you from?" That's the usual reaction I receive. Oh no! Mr. Trash Monitor says about five sentences in fast old man Japanese (seriously, they speak a different language!)-- and I was listening for the key words of "What country are you from...? or something like that. But instead, I noticed that by the tone of his voice, he was actually scolding me about putting my trash in the wrong place.
He did indeed ask me, "Where do you come from?" But he wasn't referring to my country. He was asking about my house location! I pointed up the hill and he said, "THIS spot is for the residents of this building only... Do you understand?" (In slow remedial Japanese) Mind you, he lives in a 5-unit apartment building, and it's a residential neighborhood with houses all over. AND, that's the only 'official' drop-off area for the trash. The drop-off spot isn't just for his house-- it's for everyone on the freakin' street... But I couldn't say that!!!!
Sooooo...... I muster up all of the Japanese bubbling up inside of me and I say, "Chigaimasu yo! Chigaimasu yo! (That's not right/That information is incorrect.) And I just walk away and go on with my morning walk towards the train station.
(laughing) I have to tell you, the quote "Nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue" quote is pretty good. But I would also like to add "... ESPECIALLY, when you don't speak the language." Good Lord!!
Had I been a Japanese speaker or he an English speaker, the conversation could have been pretty serious. Think garbage rage folks. And things probably would have ended with me taping a copy of the memo and map on his front door....
HA!!! (I would have included pictures, but my camera is acting up these days....) I wish Ced would have seen it.
--Sista in Tokyo