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Japan Diary

Paying Attention

By February 4, 2020May 9th, 2020No Comments
Paying Attention

Three times a week I walk to the local coffee shop for my morning writing sessions. Over the past few months I have been paying attention to a house being built on a back alley street near my home.

Upon first notice, it was simply a concrete foundation. And with each passing week it began to take shape and really started looking like a home, with the makings of walls, doors and windows.

Recently I noticed one of the carpenters taking a smoke break in front of the home. I said a polite “ohayo gozaimasu.” (Good morning) He returned the greeting. Afterward while continuing my walk to the coffee shop a few thoughts occurred to me, “I wonder what he was thinking in that moment smoking and looking up at the house he has been building for someone else? Did he want to live in the home?” Followed by another thought, “What an amazing skill to be able to build something from scratch. It must have taken a lot of experience including some failures to be able to understand how to build something correctly.”

If you think about it there is a lot at stake in building a home. The attention to detail in the building process has to be perfect. I am no carpenter, barely pound a nail without a thumb whacking or two, but I can imagine making sure the walls and corners square up correctly and the foundation will hold, especially in an earthquake prone country like Japan.

On a recent walk past the house, which is nearly complete, I wonder how the carpenters will feel after completion? Satisfied for another job well done. Just another day. On to the next. My final thought, “Are these builders living in the same kind of homes they are building for others?Do they feel slighted because of it? Or maybe they do live in the same types of homes, only better quality.”

I think blue collar workers deserve good money. In many ways just as much or more so than a lot white collar workers working for large corporations.

The same holds true for garbage collectors In Japan, they take pride in their work. What a job picking up others trash day in and day out all year long regardless of the weather. I have the utmost respect for the hard working men who do this job. I do hope they are well compensated. It would not be fair that some company man is paid more to sit at his desk and pretend he is busy while biding his time hitting a certain age to get more money and a bonus. (This is the Japanese system)

That would not be fair. I know, life is not fair. But when I see workers doing work in service of others I hope they are well compensated.

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