Water Should Be Free


Some people believe that clean water should be available to everyone in the world for free. While I don’t know if this is really an undeniable right, it certainly is a noble goal. Many diseases are spread due to a lack of proper sanitation and anyone who has suffered dehydration might have sympathy for those who don’t have ample water supply.

I found out last week that I have been getting free water for about 11 months. Well, technically it wasn’t free: I just wasn’t paying for it. After moving to my house, I set about getting all my bills on automatic payment. Much to my surprise, the water bill was not getting paid. How could I not notice? Well, I’m pretty sure the bills were labeled oshirase (お知らせ) which usually indicates that something is not a bill, but just a notice of how much the bill was. Since the bills are fairly predictable, I am in the habit of piling them up to be sorted later. Fortunately, in Japan they are very polite about this sort of thing. After receiving a note indicating that someone had come to speak with me, I called up and a charming voice politely informed me of my transgression. They were very excited that I was willing to make a lump sum payment to cover the past due amounts. On Monday they had one of their scooter driving workers stop off on their route and collect my money.

It is now rainy season and I felt bad for him, but I could not convince him to come in for tea. He did, however, enter my genkan (玄関), before announcing himself. I always get a kick out of that. Many people don’t find it rude to enter your house, but can’t be compelled to sit at the table because that would be grossly improper. The problem with this is that if I stand on floor 20 cm above him, then my head is about 40 cm too high, so I end up hunkering down on my haunches to talk to delivery people, salespersons, evangelists, and bill collectors.

The newest bill came yesterday (Tuesday). Because of the way separate months bills are treated as different entities, he could tell me on Monday how much the bill was, but he couldn’t take my money. I will have to go to the bank to pay this, but I can set up the auto-payments at the same time. Once I get this last bill automated, I think I can never move again.


3 Responses to “Water Should Be Free”

  1. directsite Says:

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  2. fightingwindmills Says:

    11 months??? LOL! They really were being excessively polite to let it go on like that for 11 months. Do you find that people accept you choosing to live there, or do you constantly get the questions about when you will be going “home”?

  3. びっくり Says:

    A couple years ago, I missed a tax payment. In that case they sent a late notice with a penalty. The penalty was the cost of the post card… about 20 cents. Very, very kind.

    I don’t get such direct resistance, but sometimes there is subtlety. People who initially meet me are surprised when I tell them I have no immediate plans to return, but when they hear about my shuji and other activities they are amused. However, I have had people seem to get tired of me and make comments suggesting a departure… but I haven’t always had luck keeping friends for a long time in America either.

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