November 26, 2003
I am hoping for a quiet afternoon. It’s been a little stressful at work this week because I’m covering for the person who’s supposed to be covering for one of the people who went on vacation but instead decided to take some time off himself. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was up to date on the customer in question, but I’m not. I don’t even program for that platform anymore. Still, I was able to squash a perplexing bug for them yesterday, which made me feel clever (except for the part where I couldn’t quite figure out how it was that code that hadn’t been changed for months suddenly started to cause data to disappear or get mangled; I’m going with the “user is doing something different now but doesn’t realize it so that’s why she says the screen used to work fine” explanation).
If I’m lucky, all the customers I support will leave early for the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ll be able to spend the afternoon concentrating on something chewy from my list of open tasks. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get sent home early myself, but the odds of that happening are so close to zero it’s hard to tell the difference. I could just empower myself to leave early, but I’d have to make up those hours before the end of the month, and there are no workdays left in November after today and making up hours on a holiday weekend in order to leave early for that same weekend seems not at all sensible.
So I’ll stay this afternoon and hope for quiet.
Speaking of quiet, one of the nice things about Tokyo (no, I’m evidently not quite done talking about my trip) was that I only heard one cell phone ring the entire time we were there. One. Almost everyone seemed to have a cell phone, and we saw many, many people taking pictures with them and lots of people on the train looking a the little screens and pushing buttons on the keypads as they checked their e-mail or played games or text messaged their friends and even a few people talking on them, but only heard that one ring. The woman whose phone it was seemed a little flustered, probably because she hadn’t heeded the smiling cartoon cellphone that told her to turn it off; she answered it quickly and talked very quietly and briefly. It was so refreshingly unlike here, where I am assaulted by custom ring tones on a too regular basis.
Another nice thing about Tokyo was how much less conspicuous I felt than I thought I would. I had this image of myself as a huge, ungainly gaijin Godzilla alarming the natives with my odd clothing and strange blue eyes. Instead, most people didn’t seem to take any special notice of me, or at least no more notice than I was taking of them. I probably stared too long at the women who chose incredibly high heeled boots to wear on their shopping excursions or the one who chose to accessorize her camouflage print leggings with bright blue patent leather flats and peach lace footie socks that were obviously meant to be seen. Sure, I felt unfashionable, but I often feel that way here in the States, too. Nothing strange there.
We’re going to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. If our dad were still alive, I’d monopolize the conversation at the dinner table telling him all about Tokyo. I thought about him a lot when we were there, since it was his stories about Japan that sparked my interest in seeing the place. He would have loved the gardens and the temples and especially the trains. Unlike a lot of times, I would have had no trouble buying him a Christmas present this year because just about everywhere we shopped in Tokyo there was something that made me think, “hey, that would be perfect for Dad”. I’m hoping that in sixty-some years when I die that I’ll get a chance to tell him all about it in heaven. We’ll see.
And now I’d better get back to work. So far so good; the phones are quiet and e-mail volume is way down. I might get out of here in time to work out, even. If I’m fortunate, there won’t be a repeat of Monday’s road closure for unknown reasons that caused me to lose half an hour winding around roads that were never designed to have so many people driving on them.
A year ago, I reflected on holiday traditions. This will be the second year a row my brother has hosted Thanksgiving; maybe that’s a tradition in the making.