[The American Years]

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm in!

Me at the Detroit airport leaving enduring the delay to get here. Talking to the family on the phone. Those were such simple times.

I made it. I’m in country. My short week here of orientation was eye opening. The Japanese love a nice form. A lovely document with some spaces and a routing that must be followed, and you hit it with your name stamp to show you approve and agree. It’s awesome. Nevermind that the form is useless.

All 31 of us Inter-company transferees from 16 different countries jammed in a room. You’ve never seen Japan look so diverse!

My first full day here included my government required health check. Nothing too drastic. I found that one of the American guys over here with me who was born in Vietnam has bad hearing. That was good to know. I thought his speech was incomprehensible because of a thick Vietnamese accent. Now it makes sense that it’s from his hearing being bad. Poor kid. I guess I won’t make fun of his accent anymore. Or I’ll double down on it, since he can’t hear me anyway.

They drew some blood from everyone. The biggest brawniest (Brazilian) guy in the group had to lie down for nearly fainting. I went right up to him on the couch and asked him in my best Portuguese if there was anything I could get him. A drink of water? A light snack? A teddy bear and a phone to call his mommy?

The eyesight lady had me take off my glasses for the test. She told me through a translator that I didn’t need glasses. (Sure, lady, and I bet you think you don’t need a dentist.)

(Please forgive me. I’m not that mean. Really I’m not. I just realized I had 3 mean jokes in a row. It’s hard to be funny without being mean. But I’ll work on it…. You might say please work on being funny first.)

They measured my height and weight. And man I have lost some serious weight! Before I left I weighed somewhere above 210 I think. Then I get here and I weight 96! Awesome! That Japanese diet is really working! I haven’t weighed 96 since 4th grade! Oh, duh. Metric system. Darn.

Well at least that explains the reading they got on my body fat percentage. There has to be some metric conversion factor there. I didn’t think my body fat percentage would be 3 digits.

The worst thing was the interview portion of the health check.
“Are you ok?”
“Um, yes.. I mean Hai.”
“Mmmm OK. Finish.”

With Lent starting while I’m over here, I think it’s unfair. Coming to Japan is like automatic lent. No meat on Friday? I’d have to seek out meat instead of sea food. And what to give up for Lent? No shortage of things that I’m forced to give up over here. Sleeping at regular hours, doorways I can pass through, English language TV, contact with friends and family, whole-grain anything, …. I think living over here for a year will be permanent Lent. Perma-Lent. Not just for the monasteries, anymore. Now available to the public!

Picture from a Japanese cemetary. One plot per family, with ashes of the deceased members in urns on the base of the large monument. This was a huge cemetary that I happened across. Must be the largest in Nagoya.

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