I applied for a new job recently. It was in London, and although the job was potentially a very exciting opportunity, part of me was rather unsure about the idea of going back to the UK. I'm sure that some of what I originally felt compelled to leave behind, such as miserable standards of public service, would still be there.
Seems I didn't get selected for the interview anyway. Contradictory as it might sound given the above comment, I was felt a little down about this fact. A 'my country pushed me out and now it won't let me back in again' sort of thing!
Anyway, I left the house today and headed into Central Tokyo for a meeting. It was kind of good to get out amongst the throng again and remind me where I was. On the way back home, I dropped into my little suburban post office for a remittance I needed to send.
It took quite a long time for the man behind the counter to process my order, more than half an hour. This situation was most troubling for him and as I sat there playing Solitaire on my PDA, his brow was knotted in a permanent frown as he cradled a telephone next to his ear.
Eventually, he was able to sort out all matters problematic with my form, double check them with me and finish what I had come in to do. To my great surprise, he was so concerned about the delay he had caused me, that he gave me a little gift to apologise for having detained me for so long!
Perhaps it may be Japanese post office policy and it may have only been a box of bath soaps, but the very fact of him giving me this gift to apologise for the inconvenience caused made me smile to myself.
When would this ever have happened in England? Probably never.
I was reminded of a time when I experienced British and French train travel within a matter of days of each other. There were delays on both journeys. The train from Normandy to Paris was held up by an hour due to some sort of engine failure and as I arrived in the station (possibly Gare Du Nord, although I forget now), I was handed a voucher to claim back a portion of the ticket price, in compensation for the inconvenience caused. The refund increased incrementally as the delay lengthened.
The following week, I was back in the UK. I tried to take a train from London Victoria down to Brighton, but it stopped at Haywards Heath with no warning or explanation given. Eventually I had to track down a guard who informed me that there was going to be a replacement bus service along soon that would take passengers on to the rest of the journey. No hint of an apology anywhere.
It really doesn't take a lot to give a little back when something fucks up, and it can sometimes really go a long way!