No Excuse

by

I was almost four minutes late to school today: considering it is a one or two minute bike ride, I guess I have no excuse for my tardiness. My main reason for moving from Ise back to Tsu was to place myself close to my workplaces. My farthest location is now 20 minutes away by car (and about the same by bike), but my Friday school is the closest at about one minute.

Last night I was up late working on my speech for Kyoto this weekend so I slept in until about 25 minutes before work. I took care of my morning routine, got dressed, had a little breakfast and was heading for the door when I noticed the kairanban (回覧板) in our mailbox. Kairanban is a clipboard containing “important” information about our neighborhood and city to be circulated. There is a place for us to stamp our name and pass it on. There is a decided order as well. Levels of stress associated with the kairanban deserve a little historical perspective.

When I lived in Sakurada-cho (quite near my current residence) there were a couple neighbors who visited me to share their displeasure with the amount of time it took me to pass the clipboard to the next neighbor. Naturally all of the documents are in polite (i.e., hard to read) Japanese and they all look very officious. I constantly felt torn between not giving due respect to the valuable information and not serving my neighbors’ needs to receive the information swiftly. Although, I did ultimately get a chance to express my power as well.

So, in this new neighborhood, I don’t want to get a reputation as “the difficult foreigner” – I set about reading all the documents carefully and stamping my mark before I left the house. Hopefully, my wife has already passed it to the next party. Oh, almost forgot, my wife is still too lazy to walk to the garbage drop and today was plastic recycle day, so I had to take a detour on the way to school as well.

When I rode by train from Ise, I almost always arrived at this school 10 or 15 minutes early, so everyone was asking me if I was late today. I guess I have two reputations to juggle now. Hopefully this school will adjust to me coming at my proper start time from here on out instead of arriving before the full-time workers.

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