Like pilot fish clustering around a shark (an apparently quite deranged shark), Japan’s business districts tend to attract a few distinct, rather bizarre types of worker that are plentiful enough to be seen on a daily basis.
And predictably, I take issue with them all.
The Outdoor Napper
I understand you’ve had a rough first half of the day, Mr. Construction Worker. I can see how delivering things on your moped could be quite taxing, Mr. Transporter. But when noon rolls around, is it really necessary for you all to go lying on sidewalks, dangling over motorcycles or reclining open-mouthed inside your cars? In case no one’s told you yet, you look very, very foolish. Keep it up and I’m going to start sticking your hands into bowls of cold water.
The Bathroom Brusher
Dental hygiene is a good thing, so in that sense The Bathroom Brusher is to be commended. It’s his choice of brushing locales I find questionable. Personally, I associate the toilet with things like, oh, excreta and other dubious forms of particulate matter — sticking things in my mouth in there just doesn’t seem like the best of ideas. Especially when there’s a kitchenette right down the hall.
Incidentally, I have observed an offshoot of this fellow, The Inquisitive Bathroom Brusher. While the applying of toothpaste to brush and the brushing itself will begin in the bathroom, The Inquisitive Bathroom Brusher, or TIBB, will occasionally wander out into the hallway — while still brushing — in order to keep tabs on what everyone else is up to.
I once worked with a guy who would take his golf club outside on his lunch break and practice his swing — with no ball. Weird, but OK. At least he had a club.
The Golf-practicing Man of downtown Tokyo, however, will have nothing.
No ball. No club. Nothing whatsoever.
Yet practice his golf swing he will — in back alleyways, by the side of the road… Anywhere there is sufficient room for lateral arm movement and making an ass of oneself, there Golf-practicing Man shall be.
Sir, you are swinging at nothing. And with nothing! I put to you that this is a tremendous waste of time.
I once saw a variant of Golf-practicing Man, the elusive Baseball-practicing Man, repeatedly swinging his canned tea while passing through the doors to my office. It was the silliest thing I’d seen in a good while, and I hope my look conveyed as much.
The Random Stretcher
There is no shortage of Random Stretchers here in Tokyo, and frankly I don’t know what their problem is. Stretching is always a good idea prior to engaging in physical activity, but most of these whackos look like the last time bit of physical activity they engaged in was heading to the toilet to go brush their teeth.
Without fail, The Random Stretchers’ stretch of choice is the bow-and-arrow stance, which they will enter into dramatically and start bouncing up and down, a spectacle that says, “Make no mistake, I am stretching, goddamit!”
That you are, friend. You’re stretching your hamstrings. And unless your job is to lift heavy objects with your crotch, I would suggest that you are in fact stretching the wrong body part. Not to mention making yourself an object of ridicule in the process. But that’s just me.
I have a strong, almost irrational hatred of Mr. Slipper.
I understand the concept of the slipper — you’ll be at the office all day, so screw it, you might as well take the old shoes off and get into something more comfortable. So far, we’re in agreement. It’s the fact that you never change out of those slippers that makes you a silly enough bastard to get you onto this list.
When you go to the bathroom … When you walk down the street to get your bento … When you’re at the convenience store … When it’s fucking raining outside … There you are, undaunted. In your slippers. And on a good day, in socks shaped to fit around each individual toe.
You silly, silly bastards. A plague on your houses, all of you.
p/s – Just to show that I haven’t been entirely consumed by hate and anger, I’ll round this post out with a rather interesting person of the workplace. The first time I encountered this person, I thought for sure my ears were playing tricks on me. I walked toward the fenced-off construction site, peered through one of the slots … and sure enough, I had actually heard what I thought I’d heard.
While his fellow construction workers lolled around napping on tables or on the ground, one worker was seated in a chair — from which he played the didgeridoo for his entire lunch hour. As well as every subsequent lunch hour I’ve passed by.
You, sir, rock.