Category Archives: Diplomacy

The Bald Ambassador

We had some business at the American embassy a couple of weeks ago. Because of the pissing match going on between the spoiled brats in Washington and Pyongyang, security at the embassy is tight. It’s a good thing we were early for our appointment because it took twenty minutes to get inside.

army knife with quarter

They didn’t go so far as a cavity search, but they did confiscate Rochi’s 1.5 inch Swiss army knife. It would have taken some pretty serious Shawshank Redemption style effort to do any damage with that. I was starting to lose my patience when, at the final checkpoint before entering the hallowed ground, a guard asked me to take off my head scarf. I stared at him, raised my hand as if to touch it and started to shake my head, “No.”

I’m usually a fairly cooperative and obedient citizen when it comes to things like that, where arguing usually causes more trouble than it’s worth, although it does piss me off when they make old ladies take off their shoes and get out of their wheelchairs to hobble through airport metal detectors. This wasn’t so very different from that. I understand security and one rule for everyone, but I will not be balded at the entrance to the embassy.

The guard stared back at me. I could see him mentally clicking through his training manual, then his eyes flew open and he said, “Gan desu ka? (Is it cancer?)” Too annoyed to be surprised at such a direct and personal question from someone it is safe to assume is a normally reticent Japanese, I raised one of what was left of an eyebrow and slowly nodded once. He let us pass.

As annoying as the experience was, the story gets better with time. I told a gay friend about it and he burst out laughing. “Did you just use ‘bald’ as a verb? I guess if you can ‘out’ someone, there’s no reason you can’t ‘bald’ them.” Indeed.

me in pink

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The Tale of the Crazy Lady

Setagaya lineThe Setagaya Line is a silly little two car line that doesn’t go very fast. I’ve seen people whiz past it on bicycles, but it was the only way to get to yesterday’s job. After the first stop, a woman behind me started yelling quite loudly, “Excuse me! Excuse me!”

As is usual in such cases most people ignored her, but the conductor was obliged to go see what the fuss was about. The yelling woman had a cane but wasn’t old and didn’t seem to have any trouble walking. From what I can surmise, she wanted to sit and asked a young guy to get up and he ignored her. The train stopped at the next station. Yelling woman and two young guys got off and stood on the platform. The conductor took the guys aside and spoke to them quietly. The train pulled out of the station with the guys standing on the platform looking bemused. I don’t know what happened to yelling woman.

I can only guess, but assume the conductor said something like, “OK. This is clearly a case of crazy lady. In the interest of keeping the peace, would you two mind waiting for the next train?” So very Japanese.

This course of events made me a little late for work, but everyone enjoyed the Tale of the Crazy Lady so they forgave me. After all, a little crazy is the spice of life.