羽之助の帝紀

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Five Seconds of Shame, Half Hour of Warmth
五秒の恥、三十分の優しさ

I've got more on Hong Kong, but first, a word from our sponsor. Well, not really. But anyway, something happened in the shopping mall today.
香港についてもっとあるけど、まずはスポンサーから宣言を発表する。ま、実はそんなことないけど。とにかく、今日は広場で面白い事件が起こった。

I was on the second floor of the mall, going to buy some stationery for writing letters, when it happened.
手紙を書く為に二階の文房具の場所に行っていた時、ソレが起こった。

I walked by a family - mom, young son, young daughter. The kid saw me, and as I passed, The Words came forth ...
家族を過ごした。お母さん、娘、息子。息子が僕の顔を見た。隣に通って、コトバが出た・・・

"It's an outlander! Outlander! Gaijin datta! Gaijin!"
「外人だった!外人!」

I've been called a gaijin before. By drunk older women, usually, so I don't complain. Teachers slip and say it, even my supervisor from time to time. But to everyone, I'm Patorikku-sensei, or Patorikku, or that weird guy who tells jokes every second of the day. Sometimes, I am called outlander, but only by accident, and I think nothing of it.
もちろん外人と呼んだことがある。普通は酔っているお姉さん達にので別に文句は言わない。先生がたまに言っちゃう;時々主事にも呼ばれる。でも、いつも皆の心の底から僕はパトリック先生、それともパトリック、それともあの冗談をいつも言っている変な奴だ。時々だけ外人と言われるので普通はなにも考えない。

But the boy, in his innocence, said it. And meant it. Outlander.
しかし、純良な息子だったので、本当の意味が入っていた。外人。

What did his mother say afterward? I don't know. I was already on my way down the hall. Feeling shame.
お母さんはなにか言葉直しをした?僕は知らない。もう廊下を歩いていた。恥を感じていた。

Then I arrived at the register. I put the words out of my mind. I joked with the cashier, and she gave me a laugh, instead of the nervous expression that usually happens when an employee doesn't understand why a customer is talking to her like a person instead of a machine. I went to see one if one of the English-class women was working. Turns out she took the day off to help her son move, and I joked with the staff about how strong she was. I went to downstairs to the food section and bought some bean dango. I mentioned this to the cashier, and asked what the sesame dango tasted like. She exuberantly told me it was delicious and insisted I buy some next time. Then the cashier at the next cash came over and agreed, and we were all laughing, with broad smiles.
でも、すぐレジに着いた。あのコトバを無視してレジさんと笑話をした。どうして機械じゃなくて人間に話しているっぽいお客さんが店員に話しかける迷っている顔をするではなくて、レジさんが笑ってくれた。英語講座の女性生徒がいるかを探しにいった。息子の引越しを手伝うために休んでいるっていわれた。「ま、彼女は力持ちだから大丈夫だね」といって店員さんが笑った。下にいってあんこ団子を買った。買う時にこれをレジさんにこれを言って、ゴマ団子はどんな味だと尋ねた。輝いて「美味しい」といってすぐ買いなさいといわれた。それから、隣のレジさんも話に参加して同意して、美味しいって。皆がでかい笑顔と笑っていた。

It made me think. I criticize Japan because it needs to be criticized. But in the end, I still love this country. Five seconds of shame versus a half hour of hearty laughter.
なんか考えさせられた。批判されるはずだから僕はよく日本を批判するけど、結局、この邦を愛している。五秒の恥対三十分の大笑い。

4 Comments 論評:

  • A heart warming story.

    That child is a good indicator of the status of Japan in terms of racial equality. It's interesting in that he doesn't know that what he is saying is wrong and hurtful to another person.

    And yet, it's not only children who call people who aren't ethnic Japanese "foreigners". I remember reading a story of how Japanese tourists got off a plane in England or some place and remarked "look at all the gaijin". If you don't get that, the Japanese in this instance are the gaijin, since they're in England.
    Xenophobic culture for the win.

    By Anonymous Chris, at 3/30/2006 3:08 AM  

  • And I know you know this Pat... I'm just sort of reflecting.

    By Anonymous Chris, at 3/30/2006 3:09 AM  

  • Patrick...my heart sank as I read your story. That is all I can say.

    Love Mom

    By Anonymous mom, at 3/30/2006 4:53 AM  

  • The way I heard it, it was Italy.

    And, given the way things in Japan are going, I would not be surprised if the mom took the kid aside and said "Taro, that's not nice. Say 'gaikokujin'". Remember the story of when a girl at one of my schools said 'gaijin' and immediately got whapped by her friend.

    By Blogger 羽之助, at 3/30/2006 8:01 AM  

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