22 July, 2009

Gyms and optometrists

Yesterday I transferred my Curves membership to Australia. Because of the language barrier (i.e. all my records in Japan are in Japanese), I did have to go through all the questions again, but this time in English. I expected the gym to be a little different, but a couple of things caught me unaware, and not all of them cultural.
  1. The shoe thing was fine: I didn't have to take my shoes off as I entered. Getting used to that one.
  2. About the second question I was asked was, what is your occupation. Ummmm. Missionary? If the question threw me, the answer shocked my questioner. There are many things which I could describe myself as, but none of them are as comprehensive as missionary. What was even more difficult, however, was answering a later question. The trainer, trying to make conversation, asked why we keep going to Japan and coming back. Try to explain that to someone with no church background! It is a hard enough question for many Christians to understand.
  3. No toilet in the gym, a good 50m walk to another part of the shopping centre. I find this crazy. What if...well girls sometimes have to go really quickly...enough said.
  4. No footprints on the machines. Explanation required. Some of the machines have a wide platform for you to stand on while you do an upper body exercise using levers. In Japan the gym had cut-out footprints to show you where to stand while you use the machine. None in the gym yesterday. I wondered if I had my feet in the right place. A small thing and something you will probably think is weird. In Japan there are many rules, even for things like exactly what sort of bag your child requires for kindergarten. Australians scoff at such lack of invidual freedom. The Japanese love it, it makes them feel safe and cared for. I often feel over-cared for in Japan, but didn't realise that I'd gotten used to it, just a little.
We also took our 10 y.o. and 6 y.o. to the Optometrist yesterday. Our 6 y.o.'s teacher had concerns about him turning his head to the side when reading. I thought it was a behavioural thing - something he does even when he hears something new. But, just in case, we went to get it checked. As it turned out, it is our 10 y.o., not our 6 y.o. who needs the glasses. The poor chap has just changed countries and started a new school, then he finds he has to get used to wearing glasses too! He was adamant that, while it was okay for others, it was not okay for him. To make it even more interesting, the 6 y.o. had to have drops in his eyes for part of the exam. Strange, really, the drops caused his vision to blur and then he really thought that he needed glasses. So much so that he went and found a frame he really liked and we had trouble getting them off him! So, all the way home we had tired, hungry boys - one extolling the reasons why he, personally, could never wear glasses and the other begging to have a pair! In the end we allowed our youngest to tell them both to be quiet. It all finished well, however. When putting them to bed, our 10 y.o. pondered, "Will I get my own glasses case?" Our 6 y.o.'s eyes started to improve around then too and his desperate need for glasses suddenly evaporated! Phew! What a day. Now I have to get onto the thing which is frustrating us both - the mess in our 'office'. Deputation materials, stationary, school notices, various official letters and pieces of useful information. There is some kind of merry party going on in the room where our desk is and we are not really on top of it at all.


Catherine said...

Busy, busy.
Good luck getting on top of your office. Once you have, tell me how.

Ken Rolph said...

"The trainer, trying to make conversation, asked why we keep going to Japan and coming back."

I wonder if they would have asked this of anyone else, business people or students? Is it part of treating missionaries as "people, but not as we know them"? Even just being an ordinary Christian can bring puzzled questions from people. Especially if they have know you for a little while and didn't pick it up.

It's as if they were treating you as an ordinary person, but then when the know you as a Christian they think they should be doing that, but don't quite know how to react.

Wendy said...

Ken, I guess my blog title holds: I am indeed, 'on the edge of ordinary'!