Rude People, Rude Birds
And, I shortened my story
As I exited through the ticket gate at Harajuku station a few weeks ago, someone stepped on the back of my shoe so hard that it came off. She didn’t say a word until I turned around and looked at her, then she apologized emphatically.
While walking down a narrow sidewalk, a woman walking the opposite direction hit me in the face with her parasol. I was so shocked that all I could do was rub my face where I thought the little metal nub might’ve cut me. The woman didn’t even slow down.
On my way to the park, a toy-sized dog barked at me pretty fiercely. He was on his leash, so he couldn’t get to me. The owner immediately apologized for the dog’s behavior.
The umbrella hit was way more traumatic than the barking dog, but the dog owner was elderly. I find that young people work very hard to avoid any interaction, at all, even if it’s just to apologize.
I saw a similar little dog barking at a crow sitting atop a wire fence. The dog couldn’t reach the crow, and the crow just stood there looking down at him, like, “you’re an idiot.” They were really only a few inches apart, but the crow apparently knew what he was doing. The owner ran up to rescue the dog because she knew that later on, that crow could show up at her house with some friends.
I could fill an entire newsletter about stuff I’ve seen crows doing in Japan. They’re not really crows. They’re ravens, but everyone calls them crows, so I call them crows, too.
They’re always doing something disturbingly intelligent, so I’m careful to speak nicely to them whenever I get the opportunity. I’m hoping that when the new crow world order starts, they’ll say, “She can stay. She’s one of the good ones.”
Once, I saw pair of women sitting on a bench being distracted by a crow, so a second crow could pick their pockets from behind. The first crow kept flapping his wings and pretending he was going to get close and then backing away at the last second. The women laughed and screamed with delight. The second crow was going through their shopping bags.
I thought I should say something, but I also wanted to see if they’d pull it off. Plus, I really want to stay in good standing with the crows. You think I kid, but I’m serious. Also, these women both looked like the type to hit you with a parasol and not say anything.
Another time, I saw a crow steal two waffles off someone’s plate at a sidewalk cafe. He flew to the roof of a building, hid one waffle behind an architectural feature, and disappeared with the other one. Maybe to deliver it to a friend?
They’re mostly cooperative, but I saw a crow street fight once. The two of them were duking it out on the sidewalk like a couple of gangsters. It was the kind of fight where you just know an overdue loan is involved, and you’re best off minding your business.
Anyway, I got my short story down to 4970 words (from 6200), and I think it’s better for it. It took me all week to get it to a satisfying place, so now I’m back to submitting it. My pre-shortened version is still pending with three other places. If they accept it, can I tell them to print the newer version instead?
I posted the following conversation on FB, and it got a good response, so I’m reposting it here:
Me to Adam: The kitchen faucet is leaking.
Adam: I guess I should call the landlord. How do you say "faucet" in Japanese?
Me: Ha! Don't ask me. I don't even know how to say "broken." Should we look it up?
Adam: Nah, I know how to say, "there's a problem with the water situation in the kitchen." He'll figure out what I mean.
Me: Sounds good to me.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a great weekend.
Nice one. We’ve got a pair of crows who monitor the behavior in our yard. I’ve named them Hector and Lucinda. I try to keep on good terms with them, because every now and then I see them with a much bigger gang of crows and I figure that together, they could kick my ass.