Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dear Japan,

Dear Japan,

You and I have a love/hate relationship. I love the food, I love the sights, and there is something about you that keeps bringing me back despite all the various hates I have for you. But let me tell you, that hate list is long and it's a wonder, sometimes, that I want to continue to be here when the list of things I like is so short compared to the list of things that frustrate me, anger me, sadden me...

I am currently trying to leave you because of various things that are going on in the life I left behind in my home country. You really haven't done much to encourage me to stay. I am constantly reminded of how, really, I am not welcome here. And honestly, I often find that I ask myself, "Why do I stay? Am I nuts? Do I enjoy the heartache and punishment?" But I also realize that there must be some kind of magic here that makes me love you so much. There must be something to being here, sharing this experience with the people that I love, that somehow speaks to my mind or my soul or... my insanity. I'm leaning toward the last one. 

But I am leaving on December 25 -- and I have no plans, at least for now, to return any time soon. And gawddamn, Japan, are you making things difficult! You don't want me to be here, but you won't let me leave.

Let me go through the things that I must do in order to leave you.
  • Buy a ticket
  • Break my work contract 
  • Break my lease
  • Cancel my cellphones
  • Cancel my Internet
  • Cancel my water
  • Cancel my gas
  • Cancel my electricity
  • Find a home for Turtellini
  • Find a home for Bento
  • Get rid of my furniture, bikes, clothes, whatever.
  • Repair the damage to the apartment
  • Send my packages home
  • Pack my suitcases
  • Clean the apartment
  • Uh... And the list is longer, but I don't even know what else there is because my mind is so screwy.

I am grateful for what support I have received so far from various people for helping me out (Pam, Amy, Rafe, Jacob, Koohei and then some!), but I am very much breaking from the pressure of finishing everything with such a short timeline. I have less than 2 weeks to get my stuff together and get out of here. Granted, someone pointed out to me that even if I just up and left everything, while I would probably be fined like crazy, at least I'd be home with friends and family and loved ones (who don't fall under friends and family). 

For all the people who say that you have fantastic customer service, I would like to argue that they are either Japanese nationals who don't know any better or only visitors to this country. I don't care how honorific your language is, if you are uncompromising, cold, and unwilling to help or even try to find another way to accomplish things, that is not "good customer service". For everyone who claims that you are efficient, I would say they have never tried to cancel or change any contract or service.

Case in point: Just for me to cancel my Internet and make the final payment, I have called 5 telephone numbers, 2 companies, spent... I don't know how long on the phone, at this point, and still have accomplished next to nothing. All I have managed is to run up my cell phone bill and getting you to say that you will turn the Internet off on December 16, because for some reason, you cannot do it now. You don't know how to charge me since I am leaving the country. You, being you, half the time can't accept foreign credit cards, despite them being internationally recognized providers like Visa and Master Card. You can't send the bill to me in advance. You can't send the bill to me abroad. You can't even tell me how much I owe you, since it's not the right time for you to know that. 

I am going crazy trying to do the right thing. I want don't want to perpetuate the stereotype of the foreigners who skip town without taking responsibility and tying up the loose ends. But you know, Japan, you are pushing me to the point where perhaps I understand why these "bad foreigners" did so. Perhaps they all tried, like me, in good faith, to do what was right... to pay their bills and cancel things properly and pay their taxes and clean their places and throw away the trash per the Gomi-Matrix... and were met with so much bull**** and resistance and lack of help that they broke, they said f*** it and they went away.

Japan, I want to have a positive memory of you. Please stop now, so we can salvage our relationship. It's been 9 years since I came here the very first time, and years before that where I was enamored with your thought, but the scales are tipping from love/hate to just hate... and I would hate for us to have to give up all we've had.

Please, for us.


1 comment:

Ifgriffi said...

Those sentiments sound oh so familiar. Rigid formalistic rules for everything. The knowledge that you could live there a million zillion years and never really belong there. Beautiful country with some great people but not somewhere I could ever live long term.