Lend me an ear

TK is an older guy who works in my office. He’s married, with kids who have long grown up and moved away from the island for the usual reasons; the lack of local jobs, the hellish sameness of the Japanese countryside, etc. TK is the very epitome of salariman, a lifer, so surroundings don’t really matter that much to him – living out in the country is just an added bonus because he won’t have to move when he retires, and why should he? Life is good for him out here.
TK owns a house, and a small boat, and he goes fishing every weekend. There’s really not that much else to do on the island, anyway. Until a short time ago, TK had a dog that kept him company, which was great, because it was lonely after his kids moved away.
His boy, his pride and joy, is studying for a year in New Zealand, which TK is pretty sure is an island close to Australia (which is in turn an island close to England) where they have great flocks of fuzzy white sheep and rolling green hills – that’s what it looks like in the travel brochures, anyway. His daughter got married to a guy TK never really approved of and they moved away to the distant urban wasteland of Nagoya – they only come to visit once or twice a year now. During these visits, TK really tries to get along with his son in law, but can never shake the feeling that his not-really-kin’s greatest achievent in life was somehow getting TK’s daughter to marry him (in retrospect, he never should have let his wife talk him into sending their daughter off to college all those years ago).
TK’s dog was a Golden Retriever who had big floppy ears and a magnificent coat of honey-gold fur, and for that reason, he named her Honey way back when she was still a puppy, more than a decade ago.
One day not so long ago, TK came to work crying, a sight I was not ready to see, for he was one of the steadiest workers I have ever seen, one of the old guard who knows everything about his job, and generally, very comforting to have around. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, simply, “Honey has died.” I was secretly relieved, because from the way the old man looked, I’d thought it had been his wife… I conveyed my sympathies, but felt slightly awkward about seeing him cry at work over a dead pet. It just seemed out of character, and in a way I hated myself for pitying him, so I dropped the subject entirely. Out of sight, out of mind. Until today.
Today, TK suddenly announced he is going to get another puppy, and take it on his evening walks together on the same route he took Honey all these years. At first he was against the idea of replacing her, he explained, but something last night changed his mind.
Last night, he was walking through the same park next to his house that he has walked through every night for the last ten years when a police cruiser came around the street and shined the spotlight on him. Thinking it was a cop he knew from the neighborhood playing around, TK walked up to the car saying, “Hey, cut it out! Turn the light off!” Whereupon, a rookie cop TK didn’t know got out of the car, pulled out a nightstick, and told him to back off.
The cop made TK put his hands up in the air, and frisked him. “We’ve been looking for a peeping tom in the area,” he said, using a slight varation on the standard excuse cops use when they want to jack you in Japan. TK apologized and said he had thought the cop was another cop he knew, that he had made a mistake. The rookie wan’t having any of that, though.
“Why are you dressed in black, then?”
TK explained the black running suit was just his usual walking clothes, but the rookie wasn’t one to be fooled:
“What is this cord you had in your pocket?,” he demanded.
TK explained it was a leash for his dog.
“And where is your dog, then?”
TK explained, on the verge of tears, that his dog had recently died.
“Why do you still carry around the leash if your dog is dead, old man? Do you think I’m stupid? Fucking imaginary pet stories…”
By this point point, a crowd of neighbors had gathered around to watch what was happening, and several of them spoke up:
“Leave the old man alone!”
“TK is our neighbor; he walks around here every night!”
“Fuck off, pig!”
Embarassed, the rookie sheathed his baton and started muttering about peeping toms and perverts (and who knows, maybe Night Elves as well) they were on the lookout for, and got back in his car, and peeled off into the night.
The moral of this story is, never carry around a leash not attached to an actual dog at night in Japan while wearing black, lest you get beat down by a rookie cop. (Aesop, eat your heart out!)
As of this writing, TK has not yet decided what kind of puppy to get. I will suggest he gets one with big teeth to scare away peeping toms and Night Elves.

4 thoughts on “Lend me an ear

  1. I hope he gets a big dog, like a retriever, lab, or german shepherd. If someone trains their dog to snarl when they utter “sick balls!”, that would deter harassment all together.
    Speaking of puppies, Molly is pregnant. I guess we’re gonna have a bunch of Shitsu puppies pretty soon. Do you want one, heh.

  2. I’ve only come across a couple of cops in Japan over the period of 13 years that impressed me. I know that “it’s just a job” to many of them, which I think is a shitty attitude when you’re in a power position that affects people’s lives.
    That part I wrote about them using lines about “we’re looking for a peeping tom/missing child/bank robber,” that shit happens all the time, and they use it to shake people/cars down with impunity.

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