Monday, August 21, 2006

The Price of Bananas

Today I had what I think would best be described as an 'out of window experience'. One minute I was adjudicating visas, and the next I was just... somewhere else. No where specific, but definitely NOT at the visa window. It was not an entirely pleasant feeling. It was sort of akin to the sensation I have when walking to and from work: my brain was on medulla-driven autopilot, my conscious mind having sunk down inside my being like a buoy with an overly heavy weight attached. Certainly not the alert, ever-suspicious, ultra-inquisitive demeanor one should affect at the window. When I realized what I was doing, I quickly rifled back through the past few applications sitting in my 'out' bin. Luckily, everything appeared kosher. The refusals were all solid; the issuances were all standard. I am certain that I didn't mishandle any cases. And as I ended the day with a 15% refusal rate, my somewhat slow pace could be accounted for by something other than zoning out. This is good, as I didn't particularly want to try and explain what had happened.

It probably doesn't help that I'm reading Kurt Vonnegut. This morning on the train, I allowed myself to idly imagine that the Japanese people surrounding me were Tralfamadoreans, and that I was actually involved in some strange multi-dimensional zoological experiment. Perhaps that is an apt allegory for the FS. At any rate, I've long held the suspicion that Japanese language and culture are just some cruel practical joke; that the moment I leave a room, everyone relaxes and goes back to speaking English, drinking Big Gulps, and wearing sensible shoes. When I'm done with my consular tour, and people ask how it was, I already know what answer I'll give:

EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL, AND NOTHING HURT.

Which is mostly true. And I'm a jerk for not better appreciating that I'm doing this in Japan and not in a developing world country with a skyhigh refusal rate.

To try and overcome this slump, I called up the new officer here and asked if we could have dinner. Normally I stay at home or go out by myself and read in a cafe, but I'm really tired of feeling so resigned and would dearly enjoy having a little energy. So she and I had spaghetti at her apartment, then went out to the grocery store. And what did I find there?


Yes, my friends: that is a 128 yen banana, individually sealed in its own plastic bag and cradled by a cushion of shredded pink paper. Somewhere, the inhabitants of Tralfamadore are hiding their single eyes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you buy it? And how was the spaghetti? And how do you know that dinner & the banana weren't just an out of body experience???? Hmmm???

Love,
mom