Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My Home, Your Trashcan

This morning I was standing in the kitchen preparing an English muffin for breakfast when I heard the familiar sound of something being shoved through the slot in our front door. If you live in Tokyo, this is certainly not an uncommon experience, but most businesses pile up their flyers in your mailbox rather than bother to walk from door-to-door leaving them inside your apartment. Usually, it's the religious types or the gas or electric meter readers who have to be at the door anyway who will trouble themselves to leave their detritus in your genkan (entryway for shoes).

While I'm accustomed to having to clean up the odd copy of The Watchtower or a slip of paper from the electric company telling me how many kilowatts I've consumed this month, I have never experienced what I did this morning which is someone pushing a small handful of papers through the door. When I looked down, I felt like someone had just used my door slot as a litter bin.

From a certain point of view, there really is no difference between tossing trash through some one's open window and into their home and dumping a bunch of advertising paper onto their floor via the door slot. I have to go over and pick it up and toss it in the trash now. It's a much more obnoxious thing to do than leaving it in the mailbox as junk mail (which is as inevitable in life as rude people and dogs piddling on the carpet) which at least comes in stacks in a container outside your domicile and are easy to scoop up. I'm sufficiently civilized that I never toss a bunch of papers on the floor in my apartment but someone else can come along and legally do so.

In the recent past, there were problems with people tossing inappropriate things through door slots as a form of vandalism or possibly revenge for perceived injustices between parties. At one point, there was a rash of incidents where people were cramming food through the slots, particularly cooked bowls of ramen and vegetables. Some people also poured paint into the slots to leave a more permanent mess.

After those incidents, one would hope the government would attempt to regulate access to door slots and only allow them to be used for things like failed parcel delivery notices and newspaper delivery (which is, after all, the main reason for the slots as newspapers don't fit in most standard mailboxes). Unfortunately, the government is either too supportive of the businesses who want to litter your life with advertising or too disinterested in enforcing any sort of regulation to trouble themselves with this issue.


Yanpa said...

Have you got a "no ads please" sign in Japanese? Along the lines of


They're faily effective, except for the most persistent offenders.

Shari said...

I'm such a sheep! I never even considered putting up a sign asking them not to do that. However, I'm relatively sure it wouldn't help but it couldn't hurt to try!

Thanks for the advice!

tornados28 said...

It's the same here in Los Angeles. Of course we all get the junk mail in the mail box but what I really hate are all the flyers hanging from my front door knob or on my front door mat such as restaurant menus and realtor ads. If I don't pick each day, it looks like a litter basket.

Miko said...

My big, huge dream in life is to move to an apartment with "autolock." (Do you know what to call it in English? Is it the same as "concierge service" or is that something else?) I don't feel safe knowing that just anyone can shove their crap through my door, although I have to say it's not a big problem here. Once a week, tops.

Shari said...

tornados28: I've heard that menus being hung on doorknobs are a big problem in the U.S. though I never lived in a sufficiently urbanized area to experience that. I actually don't mind the menus so much as it sometimes introduces me to new places in the area but I still prefer they put them in the mailbox and not through the door slot.

Miko: I think Luis has some sort of autolock deal at his new apartment. I don't know if this is because his place costs 2.5 x as much as mine or because it's new and in a big shiny skyscraper. Personally, I think I might be best off just blocking off the slot completely because I don't get a newspaper.

Thanks for commenting! It's always appreciated.