So I just got back from my nightly midnight snack run to the 7-11 across the street…and you won’t believe who was working behind the counter.
A tall, gangly, pony-tail- wearing, white dude. Yeah, seriously. A live, breathing foreigner working at my convenience store!
This is totally bizarro for a couple of reasons.
1. I live in the Brooklyn of Tokyo, meaning that my neighborhood is separated by a river and about a million miles from anything of interest. It’s not a ‘gaijin neighborhood’ by any stretch of the term and is sorta ghetto. The only foreigners within a 15 mile radius are the Chinese family who run the restaurant down the block.
2. You can often find foreigners in Tokyo working in retail, restaurant and bars…but a convenience store? The fact that he’s white and bilingual could definitely get him work at any number of cushy service-industry jobs in Roppongi (a touristy nightclub neighborhood), which would probably pay a whole lot better. So why in the world would he chose to work at 7-11?
When I saw him I about fell over onto the comic book stand. Stranger still was the fact that I don’t think he realized he was a foreigner.
While he was ringing up my plate of noodles, he spoke to me in Japanese, in this mildly friendly yet bored tone of voice. As if this was a completely normal exchange.
Do you want this heated up?
Do you want chopsticks?
I answered, in Japanese, in shock, wondering if I’d gone insane. I know that some foreigners here don’t speak any English…but that’s rare. Why wouldn’t he at least say “hello”? Maybe he didn’t notice the “State University of New York” hoodie I was wearing and wasn’t sure if I spoke English?
I’m going to go back there in the morning and try to talk to him in English and see what happens.