Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Noisy Car Go Away

It has been a firm policy of mine to refrain from patronizing anyone that comes through the neighborhood announcing their presence with a loud speaker. You would be amazed at their number. I am. There is the guy collecting used/broken/unwanted electronics (whom I have been told is a con man), the man selling laundry polls (Can a person make a living selling laundry poles? How many laundry poles can he hope to sell on the same block in one month? Apparently several because I know his spiel by heart). There is the faintly nostalgic call of the sweet potato seller (from whom I admit to purchasing one potato for the experience - the smell, the cart, the potato hot off the rocks, the weathered grandfather who could have stepped out of the distant past). Then you have the nationally recognized two tone whistle of the tofu vendor, the garbage collection truck blasting out music as it makes its rounds and the over-enthusiastic politicians screaming at you to vote for them, waving white gloved hands through the windows of their campaign vans as they announce their platforms at shoulder clenching volumes (this, by the way, would explain why there is no legislation regarding noise pollution). I always swear that I will never vote for someone who interrupts a child's nap, a family dinner, my reading hour or train of thought with their cacophony, however it is an empty threat since suffrage is a privilege I do not enjoy in this country. So, when I heard the tinny melody of Moonlight Sonata come and go down my street . . . it was with great hesitation that I took my wallet out of my purse and headed out to the green grocer's truck. There was no fruit in the house. As I made my way around the corner to where the truck was parked, a neighbor greeted me with a bright smile and the exclamation "mezurashii!" "This is unusual!" It was raining so there weren't many people out. I picked out some fruit and the grocer asked after my mother-in-law, because I live in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, even in a city as large as Yokohama. It was then I realized that this truck and its annoying tune help create the sense of community that I so enjoy here. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening he provides an opportunity to come out, exchange greetings, catch up, find out who's cooking what for dinner and interact with the people surrounding us. I can now appreciate the value of what is really offered to us by the vegetable man. He isn't just selling broccoli and bananas, he is protecting us from personal isolation. For that, I can forgive his noisy jingle piercing my home and I probably will not be so hesitant the next time I feel the need to reach for my purse when I hear Beethoven. There were sliced apples on the breakfast table and mandarin oranges in the kids' lunchboxes, but I still don't need any laundry poles.

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