I find that the definition of a bad day varies depending on where you live. For example, I grew up in Bumblefork, Florida, where a bad day involved:

  • Getting sideswiped by a senior citizen whose drivers’ license should have been revoked ten years ago
  • Getting heckled by a Joe Dirt-type individual
  • Discovering that no less than 500 love bugs have smashed themselves against your windshield
  • Feeling in the mood for a sophisticated cultural evening and then remembering where you live
  • Being told that the crab shack is out of mudbugs and gator tail
  • Finding a perhaps cancerous mole on your skin. Thanks, sun.
  • Having your hopes dashed – the rumor that a Boston Market is coming to town is, in fact, false
  • Hitting yet another manatee in your speedboat. If they weren’t so stupid, maybe they wouldn’t be endangered.

10 years ago, I moved to New York City and those bad days in Bumblefork slowly became such a misty memory for me that I had to really rack my brains to come up with that list. Contributing factors to bad days in New York, however, remain fresh. They involve:

  • Waking up hours before your alarm is set to go off because of jack hammering on your block
  • Handing over most of your monthly paycheck to your landlord
  • Taking public transportation on a day that is either snowy or rainy. Think: Heaving crowds and slippery wet dirt.
  • Missing the train because your Metro Card expired
  • Losing your freshly-refilled Monthly Unlimited Metro Card
  • Discovering that your favorite restaurant/club/haunt has been shut down and will be replaced by yet another Tasti D-Lite.
  • Having your feet trampled by rats “playing” in the subway station

Etcetera. I could have probably included “Overhearing the tail end of a hipster’s conversation” but that would have been too expected and slightly untrue; call it a guilty pleasure. You’ll notice that a lot of my “Bad Day” criteria involved the MTA; New York’s public transportation system which I once thought was brilliant. That was, of course, before moving to Japan, where a bad day can involve:

  • Missing your train. The magnificence of the Japanese train system elevates this daily annoyance to a full on disappointment.
  • Being “late” for work. In Japan, arriving even one minute past official starting time will often require you to fill out a lateness report.
  • Realizing your train is late because someone threw themselves in front of it.
  • Discovering you accidentally bought – and ate – a past due-date onigiri and the convenience store.
  • Being stared at. Even though it’s almost always genuine curiosity, it really does get old. You’re not a penguin at the zoo, for pete’s sake.
  • Overhearing the word “gaijin” and, because you don’t really speak Japanese, wondering for the rest of the day if it was directed at you, directed at you in a negative sense, directed at you in a neutral sense, or directed at some Hollywood movie star. Again – Negative? Neutral? Oh, the possibilities.
  • Opening your mouth and realizing that, today, your Japanese is worthless and, once again, you look like a fool.
  • Shopping for underwear and having to buy a “Large.” In America, you’re an X-Small. Or … you were an X-Small. What has all this curry rice done to you???
  • Biting into what looks like a lovely sugar-covered donut and tasting red bean paste. Or fish.
  • Stepping on a dead cicada.
  • Being hit by a speeding bicycle.
  • Coming home from work only to discover that your bicycle has been stolen – again.
  • Being drooled on by a sleeping sarariman on the train.
  • Hitting your head on a doorframe built for a Japanese-sized person. So I hear.

Regardless of my location and stage in life, the constant is that there are few things that can’t be fixed by a good old raw fish fix.

Speaking of which.

0 Replies to “Criteria”

  1. is gaijin Japanese for gringo?

  2. Hi, Me! Gaijin is the casual form of the Japanese word for “Foreigner” … technically it refers to any non-Japanese person but it usually evokes the image of a Westerner who speaks English as a native language. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not it’s a derogatory term … I feel like it depends on who says it and what’s the context. Hence, the pondering ….

  3. Hey there, Laura’s sister Caryn here. A blurb of your blog (hey, I like that) is on her blog, so seeing about “Bumblefork, Florida”, I thought I’d laugh with you a bit. I really liked that post, myself. Though I do have to caution you, there was never any restaurant as grand as Boston Market potentially coming there. To my knowledge, the gossip surrounded a Sonic fast food place. Yippeeee! And I’m proud to say, as a Bumblefork native, that said Sonic has indeed arrived, only seventeen years after the gossip began. Ah, such is life in Bumblefork. Now, on to bigger and much better things, Boston Market maybe?

    I weep for your sad little Italian cooking in Japan. What’s parmesan cheese if it hasn’t got a stamp on the rind? Or, sadly, if there is no rind at all? Tragic.

    Take care!

  4. In Italy you’re pretty lucky if your train is only 15 minutes late, sometimes 20, an hour is also possible.. I remember one day I even lost the train because it arrived and departed 10 minutes BEFORE the correct schedule!
    Instead now I’m so pixxed off when I lose my train.. even knowing that there’s another one only 2 minutes later 😀

  5. Ruben – I’m the same!! In New York the subways are also always running on their own schedule and Japan has me spoiled; I’m fuming if I miss a train! I missed a train in Italy once because it also left early – I was so angry because it was my 14 hour train to Paris and I had to wait 6 hours to get the next one. Che rottura de palle ….

    Caryn – it’s really nice to hear from you! I weep for the Italian cooking, too; I often think of Laura who I know would be horrified to see the ingredients I’m reduced to using if I want to fulfill my cravings. She might tell me to starve rather than eat garbage but it’s in my blood; I need it. Or something like it. Bumblefork got a Sonic??? That’s crazy – I heard something about a Chili’s and a Home Depot but I think that’s old news. By the way – I check out your blog once in a while, too, following the blurb on Laura’s blog (ha! I like that, too!). Your children are just beautiful and growing so much; I hope Willie’s shiner is better by now!

  6. wow, sounds like my boss is in a japanese state of mind. although the idea of a few minutes post-10am resulting in official “lateness” is kinda whack considering, as you’ve pointed out, the state of the MTA. think i should just move to italy…

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