Sunday, March 15, 2009

Economic stimulus

Today I met some friends for breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton. It was expensive, but lovely. One of my friends in NZ emailed, when I told him where I was going,

"Don't you know there's a recession on?"

I did not dignify him with an answer. Yes, I know there is a recession on. Does he think I can't read the newspapers? My friends and I are trying to kick-start the economy. I don't know how Japan would manage without us.

Later in the morning, feeling rather full after our strenuous efforts at economic stimulus, the group broke up and three of us went to the Hilton Plaza, where there is a branch of the Junkudo bookstore. This branch has been holding an English book sale for a couple of months now. We had all been to it before and were fairly sure they wouldn't have any new books in the sale, but felt compelled to check. We thought the books they had were all from their main Osaka branch – old and remaindered books they were getting rid of – or books they'd somehow acquired from bookstores that had gone out of business. There was a bit of a shakeup in the English book world in Japan last year, when Yohan went bankrupt. We didn't really think there would be anything new.

We were wrong. They had some new books in, and we all spent some money. More stimulus for the Japanese economy! (Not much, though, as the books were all 70% off.)

It was warm in there, and we were wearing coats, so after that we decided to have a rest and a drink in the coffee shop down in the lobby. It is an expensive coffee shop, but we hadn't finished stimulating the Japanese economy yet.

As it turned out, we were about to receive a little stimulus ourselves. When we approached the coffee shop the waitress came to meet us, and addressed me in impeccable English. She said, politely,

"Good afternoon. May I smoke?"

To which I hesitated, then replied, "Um, er ... yes?" because what DO you say when a waitress asks you if she can smoke?

I don't think she noticed that she had her question ever so slightly wrong, and I probably should have corrected her, but I was too taken aback by her unexpected question. Besides, I rather enjoy the idea of visitors to Japan having an equally confusing time. Depriving them of the opportunity to have a moment like that one would be cruel.

With the economic climate the way it is, we all need a little stimulating.


kenju said...

I probably would have chuckled at her, but you have to give her an A for effort! Good for you for stimulating the economy.