Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's the Real Thing

Yesterday morning I happened to be standing outside our local supermarket enjoying a tasty can of hot coffee that I'd just purchased from a vending machine (and which, coincidentally, happened to have the name "Tasty"). I was standing there drinking my coffee in a general daze when from around the corner of the building appeared an obaasan ("grandmother") riding a bicycle. On the back of the bike, riding shotgun, was her (I assumed) grandson. They were both wearing black surgical-type masks. (Many people in Japan wear this type of mask when they catch a cold or the flu, etc. I haven't seen many people wearing black ones...) Almost simultaneously a big red Coca Cola truck pulled up to the front of the vending machines...

The obaasan stops her bicycle pretty much directly in front of the entrance to the supermarket, and she and her grandson dismount. The kid heads into the store, and as he's doing so the woman mumbles something, grabs a shopping cart, and shoves it in after the kid just as the automatic doors are closing. As this is happening two guys are getting out of the Coke truck with the purpose of re-stocking the vending machines. The old woman, who now appeared to me to be almost certainly crazed, tugs down her mask, plants a cigarette between her lips, lights it up, and begins mumbling. The Coke truck guys and I are doing our best to pretend she doesn't exist...

Suddenly the woman breaks out of her mumble and begins directing her comments to the Coke guys. I could only glean the general gist of it, but she seemed agitated about the generally poor sanitation of the parking lot, which she seemed to be attributing to "no-good" taxi drivers emptying their ashtrays and "bad" kids throwing away their candy wrappers. The Coke guys are smiling and nodding as they re-stock the machines. I'm looking for my escape route. She glances in my direction and, momentarily startled, she realizes that I'm a foreigner. I begin calculating how many seconds the dash to my car would take...

The old woman quickly glances around and her eyes come to rest on the door of the Coke truck. "What's this?" she says to the two men, pointing at the door, which has the familiar "Enjoy Coca Cola" logo emblazoned upon it. "It's kind of strange, isn't it?" Oh my, I think to myself, she's a wily one. Since they've been addressed directly, the Coke guys are bound by politeness to respond. "What do you mean?" they ask. Here it comes, I'm thinking. She takes a step toward the truck, thrusts out her arm, and places her index finger squarely on the "j" of "Enjoy", and asks, "Why is there a "period" over this letter? That's wrong, isn't it?"

I felt like I'd just been punched in the face. I was stunned. The Coke guys were dumbfounded, jaws a-droop. As galaxies to stars, so was this woman's evil to that of ordinary folk. It was at that very moment that her nefarious intent made itself manifest. The Coke guys, as one, turned and looked at me...

I smiled at the Coke guys and shrugged. I finished my coffee, deposited the can in the recycle bin, and walked to my car. I drove to work.


  1. my blog only recieved a high school rating.

    I may need little * with explanations farther down the page.

    Perhaps other commenters will provide me thus.

  2. Hi Taff,

    First of all, I think that some piece of computer code saying my blog requires the level of "genius" to read is a big joke.

    Secondly, my writing on this blog is becoming increasingly idiosyncratic (think "idio-" as in "idiot"). If you find some of what I write indecipherable, it's probably because it is. Sometimes I write just to write: observations that may only have meaning for me, jokes that only I could get, etc. This by no means makes any of it "good" or interesting to others...

    Thirdly, regarding this post: the events happened almost exactly as I've described them. Later, as I was driving to work, I saw a kind of allegory in what happened, that perhaps only someone in my particular situation could comprehend. I don't mind giving some points of reference, though...

    You'll note that this (really, pretty boring) story features three generations of Japanese (with an, I think, pretty clear hierarchy). Also, for me, "evil" is nothing more or less than "stupidity". To do evil is to be stupid. The more evil you are, the more stupid (and vice versa).

    Hope this helps, because I doubt there'll be many comments on this one!

  3. well it helps me understand what you meant by using the word evil in your post. It does not however help my personally as I am prone to stupidity but I am not at all inclined to think of myself as evil.

    I thought maybe the dot above the j once removed, changed the meaning somehow by looking like some other word or symbol in Japan, or the word period, or that it was all a ruse to distract you all while her grandson grabbed some free cokes.

    I like inside jokes. I amuse myself often with what I find funny. Others don't seem to join me much there though.

  4. I learned long ago to be very wary of little old ladies and particularly those who use small grandchildren as distractions. It is all a vast and cunning plot. I hope, however, to one day be one of those wicked little old ladies - though I'll pass on the grandchildren and the small yappy dogs.