On Okinawa the word is that we are in for a particularly nasty flu season. If the first wave of colds is any indication, the word is right. For all of us at the bar, this was the second weekend of dealing with the pesky cold bug. It has been taking its toll on all of us. Over the weekend the regulars could tell each one of us was fighting various versions of brain “farts” and hoarse voices. There were cracking vocals, missed drum rolls, and rambling guitar licks, and accidentally spilled drinks. But we all forged ahead because as the saying goes “the show must go on!” I just wish this particular little pest would go away now so we can get on with life as normal. I want to thank everyone for bearing with us through this.
I have a thought for those people who think they have a right, for whatever reason, to ignore a business’ rules. What if you were to think of the business as a country. The “citizens” of this country work hard and put their hearts into creating a way of life that they believe in. Say there is a group of people who don’t like that business’ rules and beliefs. So this group thinks they have the right to ignore those rules and impose their own beliefs onto that business. And say on occasion the group commits physical acts of destruction, creates means of interrupting the business’ normal way of operating, or even implies that if the group doesn’t get what it wants trouble will ensue. How does this group differ from terrorist organizations that threaten other countries? If this were your business would you give into the demands? Or would you stand-up for your right to run your business free of outside demands?
When I was researching some legal information, I ran into a site that provides an outlet for persons wanting to release some of the frustrations associated with the political environment on Okinawa. It is good to have such an outlet, but if you read the posts all one sees are the same old issues being tossed back and forth in varying degrees of anger. If I have learned anything in all my years on Okinawa, it’s there will always be one group against another. This isn’t because it’s Okinawa, but because that is the nature of groups. Being in an interracial/intercultural marriage for thirty years has put my husband and me in the situation of not really fitting into any specific group. We are okay with that, but the groups aren’t. There is always some group trying to force their belief system on us, trying to put one label or another on us. On occasion the differences in cultural backgrounds and/or gender cause disagreement on how a situation should be handled. I can tell you right now, there is nothing that an opposing group finds more satisfying than causing dissention in an adversary. If the adversary is busy arguing amongst themselves, then the focus is taken off of the opposing group.
What we have found over the years is that both sides of a politically based argument usually have legitimate reasons for their positions, and this can lead to nothing more than an ongoing standoff. We tend to throw away the cultural social formalities, since they are equally legitimate, and focus on the belief that brought and kept us together. The belief is that one human being should treat other human beings as such. A person doesn’t impose on others, but at the same time doesn’t allow others to walk all over them.
Having resided on Okinawa for the majority of the past thirty-one years, I have to wonder what in the world is being taught in America as far as public behavior. When I left America, the rule as far as being dissatified with a business’ house rules or personnel was you filed a complaint and/or found a business that more closely met your personal preferences. If the people we get at our business are any indication, the procedure these days seems to be the dissatisfied person ignores the rule, throws a temper tantrum, or acts like a thug and tries to harrass the business owner. What are these people thinking? I doubt that very many business owners are going to make changes in their rules based on that type of behavior. Very few business owners establish rules just for the fun of it. The reason most rules have had to be established is usually because of some serious difficulty with a particular behavior in the past. Ignoring the rule, temper tantrums, and harrassment only escalate, not eliminate, the situation and stresses the reason why a particular rule was needed in the first place.
Why is it when a trusted friend decides to take a dump it’s always at the most inconvenient time? This week my trusty “Speedy” just gave out on me. And, of course, it just happened to be the week Taki and I both came down with the nasty cold that going around the island. Speedy was my very dependable sports mini car. For seven years it served as the family means of getting out and about. I always get a little attached to my cars. It feels like every one of them have had their own character. I will truly miss Speedy.
Well I guess it’s time to explain something. As I said, I came to Okinawa as an AF dependent daughter, age 17, in my last year of highschool. I was one of the most rose-colored glasses people you will ever meet. All you have to do is read my senior yearbook to see that. Life> on Okinawa tends to drain all of that hopefulness, enthusiasm, and tendency to see things on the bright-side away from a person. You can spend years trying not to be the ugly American and doing it the “right” and “acceptable” way, whether logical or not. If you are unfortunate to be too good-hearted a person over here, family, friends, neighbors, just about everyone is constantly after you for what they can get out of you. Eventually all that takes a toll and you reach a culture crash (yes crash not clash!). And trust me, because I have been through it already, this is when all the leaches begin to strike. If one is lucky, they get past the crash and try to remain as open-minded and positive towards life as this culture will allow a foreigner to be.
If I were to describe the majority of locals that I have experienced since 1974 in two words, the words would be histrionic and salespeople. Because of the limited amount of manufacturing and other big business on the island, the majority of the islanders are entrepreneurs. Everything they do has some aspect of business in it. Although this culture is supposed to have been influenced greatly by Buddhism, they didn’t seem to grasp the “middle road” philosophy except when it comes to mixing business and pleasure. Almost everything else they do is to one extreme or the other. Another thing that seems to be lacking in the culture is responsibility for one’s own actions. Because of the social structure, what happens is one or two children in the family, hardly ever the oldest son anymore, end-up finacially supporting every hair-brained idea the parents and non-responsible siblings manipulate them into. If you come into all of this from total inexperience in the culture, you tend to be used to help in the family plot of schemes. Over the years all of those ill concieved plots begin to crumble and then everything comes flying back to those good-hearted children and their families. Over here, a person is always confronted with a pack of people just waiting for any opportunity to take advantage of a situation, usually for their own financial gain. It is almost like watching a pack of wild dogs go after injured large game.
I must add, there are some very nice people over here who are sincere, well-intentioned, and truely wanting nothing more than friendship, but it is a rare occasion when I stumble upon them.
Sometimes just running around the internet doing research or just for fun can lead to some interesting surprises. Once again I have come across a website about Japan that very clearly expresses the surface of the culture on Okinawa. Maybe the two cultures, although different, aren’t as different as they think? Anyway, this weekend I happened to have been asked, again, why our beer prices were so high (the $5.00 price at a Live Music Bar is considered to be reasonable over here). This website has a very good explanation for that and many other aspects of the “Japanese” culture. So check it out, you’ll be surprised by the frankness and detailed explanationsWhy Are Prices In Japan So Damn HIGH?? I should add, this is obviously written from a male’s experience.
Oh man, it’s cold season already. And I’m getting hit with the first wave again. Oh well, just like this summer, at least I’ll get over with it quickly. In case you haven’t noticed by the past two Pet Peeves, changes have been happening on Gate 2 Street and more are looming on the horizon. We had a change in guitarists this year. Al has moved his Harley shop up north. Rumor has it that the number of available bands is on the decrease so the number of night clubs with live music has decreased accordingly. However, there still is a wide array of night clubs for those seeking the “Wild On” type experience. But Live Music Bar JET is NOT one of them!!! What the club IS about is decent vintage rock music and mature-minded people who know how to appreciate and enjoy it without getting into other people’s faces or trying to become the main attraction! Luckily that is the type of customer we normally get at the club. Our customers come from all walks of life and range from parents of service members visiting from stateside to young cola-sipping musicians who want a chance to gain knowledge about rock music through observations of live performances. Because of past events that have happened this year involving people who were unable to control their behavior, dancing by males is limited to couples consisting of one male and one female only. Also, and this shouldn’t even be an issue, nobody is allowed to bring in beverages of any kind from outside of the club! So if you are into exhibitionism, x-rated or “adult” entertainment, mosh pits, sardine-packed night clubs, meat markets, or lack of common sense manners, you’ll be better off just passing us by.
I was watching the first part of a “King of the Hill” episode the other night before going into work. Coming to Okinawa from Texas thirty-one years ago, I found the subject matter a little surprising. It was the episode where Hank was trying to teach Bobby self-reliance and they run into a group of “hippies.” Hank comes back from somewhere and Bobby has turned all of their possessions over to the group. I always thought there was something a little weird about a group of people who expected someone to give all their worldly possessions to the leaders of the group. Isn’t that what cults were all about? The leaders of these organizations fed off of other people by tossing around romantised idealisms and catch phrases such as “peace,” “brotherhood,” and “love.” Meanwhile, they were living it up on the members of the group’s hard-earned money under the pretense that it was for the “good of the group.” I always felt if someone had to side-step an issue, then they aren’t mature enough to be honest with themselves or anyone else.
"What Good Thing Happened to You Today?"
a Just A Wife creation copyright ©2004 - 2016 D. E. Furugen. all rights reserved.
Disclaimer: This site is not associated nor affiliated with ごやんサマ＠琉球のロック姉さん,
Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme,
or O.R.S. (Okinawa Rock Music Society)