Today, I experienced an inordinate number of people playing a game I call "Let's Pretend." To get us started, let's pretend my readers want to know how this game is played.
My first experience with this game came during a rare lunch meeting with my husband at the local JR station. He had a large gap in the middle of his schedule today and had time to come back to our neighborhood, go for a swim, and then meet me for lunch. We sat in a little area near the bus stop in front of the station with benches. Since this area is so near the station, there is a constant sea of foot traffic flowing by. This is where I got my first dose of "let's pretend."
In the 40 minutes or so my husband and I sat there, I'd wager that easily 300 people (possibly more) walked by. Many of them pretended that my husband and I were not real people and therefore did not deserve the courtesy of not being stared at like a freak show planted near the station for their amusement. One of the biggest gawkers was a woman in a black calf-length fur coat. It is spring so she could have at least worn a white one if she was absolutely required to be ostentatious. It was also 17 degrees (63 degrees Fahrenheit) out today. If anyone should have been gawking, it should have been us at her for wearing a winter coat on a nice spring day. I guess she was pretending it was cold enough to warrant such a coat so she could show off how wealthy she was. I didn't have to pretend that this showed she was either shallow or had severe circulation issues.
The next round was played at one of the local markets, one of the few that carries imported Mexican food. When I reached the check-out area, there were 3 lines. Two had about 8 people and one had 6 so I got into the shorter one. As my gentle readers may guess, this is always a mistake. As soon as I got into the line, it stopped. The fellow at check-out apparently had to walk off and take a phone call and it required another fellow to stand by while he made the call. The second fellow who was doing nothing at all but stand there kept nervously glancing back at the arrested line as if he felt the people standing in it might rebel at any moment and start battering the staff with their baskets. The fellow on the phone was older and clearly in charge so it was his right to pretend that the store wasn't incredibly busy so he could have a lackey stand-by for some emergency pricing action or cleaning up on aisle 3.
Since the shop with the Mexican goods is quite expensive, I had to pick up the bulk of the ingredients for burritos at a cheaper place. At this place, there were also relatively long lines and I was treated to two rounds of "let's pretend". The woman directly in front of me pretended that she had no idea money would be required at the end of her encounter with the check-out clerk and didn't bother getting her wallet out until she had been completely rung-up and received her bags. Other people pretended that I wasn't there as they bumped into me repeatedly to get past me and the woman who had forgotten that she'd have to pay for her groceries. I guess they were pretending it was me who was responsible for holding up the line and I deserved to be pushed about a bit.
Since the first 2 shops didn't have ripe avocados, I had to go to another shop. After all, you can't have good Mexican food without guacamole. You can imagine my joy at this prospect given how much fun I'd been having so far. Fortunately, the last place was not crowded. Unfortunately, there was one more round of "let's pretend" waiting for me. A woman rudely cut me off as I approached the counter then proceeded to take an eternity to poke around the change in her wallet. She then forgot how much her total was and that it was displayed digitally on the register display and proceeded to poke around her wallet like a chicken searching for an elusive worm. Finally, when she'd nearly worn a hole in the change pocket of her wallet, she decided she wanted two blocks of tofu instead of one and pretended running off for 5 minutes to go find another wasn't going to leave the person behind her in the only line available stuck waiting while she did so.
I went home and tried to pretend the whole thing didn't happen. Since I'm not nearly as good at pretending as a means of altering the fabric of reality, I decided a little cathartic post would be a better idea.
Note: I'm well aware that these experiences (except for the first one) were based on living in a big city, not because the people are Japanese. Somehow, that doesn't really make it any easier to put up with. ;-)