Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Saw an Old Guy Get Busted Last Night...

I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if I go astray... Actually, I was on my way home from work about 9pm last night I'm writing this the next day after thinking about many other things, so I can't be certain of all the details. I'll try to do my best. I stopped by the Lawson Station on Kajimachi-dori, across from Zaza City to but a snack and lunch for the next day. Right at the front of the store, at the end of the aisles of food, stood an interesting duo.

The tall one was obviously a store manager. The detective in me identified him by his Lawson uniform, an aqua and white striped smock with a plastic name badge. These badges are rarely helpful to me because the names are almost always in kanji. He was standing next to a shorter man, older and tan, with wavy dark hair. Standing closely the way only lovers, best friends or mortal enemies do.

The older guy was saying something quietly but angrily, emphatically. The Lawson man replied calmly but no less forcefully. They weren't making a huge scene, but to the customers coming and going it was obvious something was going on, something unpleasant. The other store employee stood behind the counter, near enough to make a move in case things got physical.

And they sort of did. The older guy made at least one move to leave, but the Lawson man grabbed his sleeve and held him in place. I feel certain the older guy was saying something along the lines of, "Did you really call the police? I'm just going to leave."

And the Lawson man replied something like, "You're not going anywhere, jack. Just stand right where you are."

I made my selections while trying to listen but not be too obvious about it. I know enough Japanese to get the gist of things, so I thought it might be educational and entertaining. I was definitely impressed with how calm all three men were. No shouting, no fits of anger. And it all happened to the incongruous store soundtrack of a man and child singing a happy little ditty about how fun it is to shop at Lawson Station.

The old guy quieted down, stood next to the door as people came and went. A very stylish young office worker came in with a worried look on her face. But the old guy didn't make a run for it. I suppose at that point he was resigned to his fate.

I paid for my food and as I turned to leave, the cops showed up. A man and a woman, both wearing the dark blue livery of Hamamatsu's finest. Police uniforms in Japan tend to make the officers look more like understated theater ushers. Thick polyester jackets, ties, radios clipped to their epaulets, gun belts. The men wear stiff-visored hats- universal copwear- but the women don these natty little caps in a design considered quite stylish for flight attendants in the 1960s.

The woman cop and I made eye contact as I turned to the door. For a moment we were both at a loss. I had this idea she thought for just a second that I was the reason they were there and I was going to be some kind of gaijin troublemaker. But then again, maybe I was just projecting.

"Sumimasen," I said and she moved to let me exit. I towered over both these cops, which is a novel experience in itself. But the Lawson guy... he was pretty big. Didn't look like he was going to accept any more nonsense that night.

As I put my bag in my bicycle basket, I could hear the discussion begin. He said-he said. I have no way of knowing what the old guy did in the store. My guess is shoplifting, but it could've been anything. He didn't seem drunk; no swaying, no babbling. Maybe he exposed himself. I once saw a guy masturbating away outside a Lawson in Toyohashi, right across from the train station, letting it all hang out for everyone to enjoy. Probably not nearly as much as he was. So I know these things happen. Who knows, maybe there's a class of perverts who get off on convenience stores.

You don't generally see things like this in stores here. You can walk in with a big bag, no one bats an eye. I feel both trusted and trustworthy. But then, there are people who no doubt take advantage of this social contract between store and customer. There always are, Japan or wherever.


RAB said...

"I had this idea she thought for just a second that I was the reason they were there and I was going to be some kind of gaijin troublemaker. But then again, maybe I was just projecting."

Based on what I've read about the bad behavior and bad public image of some gaijin there, I'm inclined to think you weren't projecting and that may well have been her first thought. It would be only natural.

Joel Bryan said...

RAB- I believe you're right. It'd be fair enough for her to think along those lines. It's her job to be suspicious, after all. And I was right in her face (by accident) the moment she came through the door.