Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Medicinal Conclusion

A short while ago I was in my apartment and I picked up my phone to a number I didn't recognize.  It's not uncommon that I miss phone calls from an unknown number.  I don't have voicemail (because that's a little intimidating in Japan and isn't needed enough to justify the extra cost), and I usually assume it is a wrong number.  But this time I answered and pieced together the meaning of a very excited voice on the other end.  It was the medicine man.

It has been well over a year since the pharmaceutical company came to my door and somehow convinced me to take a box of medicine in an old house system of making first aide available.  Mostly painkillers and bandaids from what I can gather, the idea was that they would check the box every few months and then I would pay for what I had used.  I didn't really understand this at the time, but it's fun to participate in Japanese activities so I thought I would give it a try and go along with it.  They were very persuasive, especially for not speaking the same language.  Maybe I'm easy.

It sat in my closet for 14 months until this gentleman actually got a hold of me.  I told him I was in my apartment right then and he excitedly decided to come right away.  Three minutes later he was at my door.  I brought him the box and said I hadn't used anything.  We kept saying things to one another, having parallel conversations, neither one of us wanting to be rude enough to outright give in and say we didn't understand.  But luckily, our game of enthusiastic charades paid off.  I was able to express that I will never use this medicine because I don't understand it, and because I will be going back to America in about the same amount of time that I have had this box unchecked by your company, maybe it would be a good idea if you took it back with you.

He nodded his head excited, kneeling the whole while in my entrance hallway with all his papers and handheld computer, calculating the things in the box, saying lots of things enthusiastically, some that I understood, some I didn't.   He said he was very surprised, he had never had a foreign customer before.  Boo.

Eventually he had done his calculations and pulled out his portable printer, barely larger than a ruler.  He sent the information from his computer to it, and printed out a form for me to keep as a souvenir, along with his business card.  I feel very lucky to be able to keep something from this experience, though I don't anticipate I'll need to contact him to play this game again.  But then this week has been slow.

thanks for the good times

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