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.