We hurry in New York for a reason. The boss is a tyrant. You have to pay extra if your kid stays past 6:00pm at that expensive day care. Happy hour prices stop at seven.

Here in the land of salary men and women who wear impossibly high high-heels, it is not at all surprising to see people in business attire running past you on the sidewalk as if Godzilla were in hot pursuit. I’m not talking a jog. I’m talking a crazy-ass run for your life.

Time is very important here in Japan. Being late is not an option. If your morning train is late because some poor local decided to cash in his chips and jump in front of it, your friendly station agent will issue you a pass explaining why.

But are all these runs for you life really all that necessary?

Our next-door neighbor, this old witch I mistook for the help the first time I shared an elevator with her, often takes off on the Tokyo trot. The witch is one of those people who likes to slam the door behind her on me as she exits the building, and this after I held it open for her on several occasions.

At first I thought her employer was some sadistic prima donna but then learned that the old fuddy-duddy actually shares my floor, has her own flat. What happens to some Japanese women when they reach a certain age? They go from hyper stylish and sexy to matronly and butch.

One day (actually three times) I decided to follow her on her mad dash. She ended up confirming what I’ve always suspected. It’s all for show. It’s just a way to let other people know that you’re really serious about this time thing or that you would rather trip in front of traffic than keep someone waiting. Witch stopped running after a few blocks. And yes, I’ve followed other people to see what the deal was. It’s always the same.  It’s all for show.

 

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