Thursday, October 4, 2007

A New, More Sinister Theory Arises

I recently got an interesting take on the guy returning a dropped yen coin to me at the store. A friend, who has spent a good amount time in Japan, thinks it was actually an insult...Like, that the guy was essentially saying "You are a lazy, rich, careless product of a disgusting and opulent society. I am a fastidious and efficient little worker bee. Cower before me, lazy American."

My first thought was, "Yeah, but how much can he bench?" Not really. Actually, I must admit that, since the guy was in his mid-20s, a group world-renowned for their general bastardry, I had a passing thought that I was being mocked somehow, some way. But here's why I discarded that notion, and why I disagree with my friend's assessment too:

1. Laziness. If he really did want to make a symbolic gesture to insult me, that would be pretty good. However, I kind of doubt some random person would see me and muster up all the effort it would take to pull it off, knowing full well that any sort of deeper meaning would likely be lost on my pathetic American brain. The simplest answer is that I just dropped a 1 yen coin, and that's more likely in my opinion.

2. Russians. There's a ton of dirty communist Russians in this town. They can come over without a visa under a fisherman's agreement. I assume they look essentially like me. This only adds to the complication of this guy's statement--all that effort, and he has no idea if I'm even American. I could be Russian, British, Australian, etc.

3. The Spectacle. My other thought was that maybe he just wanted to have an interaction with a big hilarious foreigner to talk about with his boys at the Izakaya.

4. The wallet test. As this experiment demonstrates, people just do return money because it's the right thing to do:

However, if a Japanese person were going to insult you, that is EXACTLY how they would do it, so I don't know. I think I'm going to have to drop a few more 1 yen coins and catalogue my results.

And just between you and me--I really don't want all my 1 yen coins. I am not a rich man, but I'm rich enough not to want millions of worthless circles of aluminum jingling around my pocket.


d said...

Remember going to the Baltimore waterfront? The cop in our group (who was probably packing) flipped pennies at black beggars who he assumed were plotting to mug us. "Why?" we asked. "Because throwing centavos at them is an insult" he snarled.

Nate said...

I actually did think about that. He also hated gay people and transvestites, who he police brutalized with great relish in downtown Portland, by all accounts.

Another interesting anecdote about that guy: he had a lip of chew 24/7. Slept with it in, and swallowed the spit.

Big Awesome Matt said...

Wow, that cop sounds like he is coming right out of 'The Wire'.

Interesting theory since I sorta feel that way everywhere I go internationally. A cousin of mine once took his family to France. While the family was in line for a museum, the attendant at the front was insulting them in French assuming they could not understand and letting others in. Well my cousin took French, and who is also bigger than me, understood him and went off on the guy. In the end, the French attendent retreated faster than WWI and WWII combined.

So I'm sure others might have done something to insult you too but may have gone unnoticed.

d said...

Wasn't he also the guy who liked to talk about having sex on engine cover of his running tractor? He liked the uneven idle of the engine.

Nate said...

Yeah, when we went to Junior Worlds--this was after you got cut, but before we got p3wned by the international rowing community--there was a similar experience in Duisburg.

The French team's coach was standing near that saucy coxswain for the US women's team, talking about the various ways he would enjoy violating her to his high school age rowers. Of course, she happened to be fluent in French, listened to the whole conversation, and said something like, "Oh hey, do you know who got 3rd in the second heat two races ago?" in perfect French to the guy. He realized his error and folded faster than the Maginot line at Saarbrucken in 1940.

Big Awesome Matt said...

Haha, oh those French....

Extra points for the specific WWII event reference.