The downside to feeling untouchable

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/09/10 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/09/10/10347728.aspx


Not a technical blog today, there will be something technical tomorrow!

I have a bit of a passive/aggressive about situations where I feel embarrassed or humiliated by something.

It doesn't happen often.

But, for example, I have been to Japan several times in my 20's and 30's.

Enjoyed the country every time, always wished I could stay longer.

People there were enthusiastic and interested and engaging, every time.

My last visit was in 1998.

I was walking with a cane, not that I needed to but I was falling more often (the first multiple sclerosis thing that started to have some impact on me, really). The cane was a self defense mechanism to stop the typical assumption in the USA when a young man falls in the middle of the day (drunk!). With the cane, the assumption is different (gimp!), and I felt more comfortable with the latter assumption than the former one....

In Japan, it's a little different.

Not quite as cut and dried as Tia Carrere put it in Rising Sun:

Do you know the term..."he's a bit burakumin"? It's like uh... untouchable. I was even lower than burakumin... because I was deformed. To the Japanese, deformity is shameful.It means you've done something wrong.

That's Hollywood. Real life is a bit more subtle, especially among visitors and tourists.

But there is a subconscious thing there, something that had me feeling pretty unhappy. A general feeling of being looked at as ...untouchable.

I never went back, even after 14 years.

My passive/aggressive reaction to this - skip the country from then on.

Several offers for consulting jobs were quite easy to regretfully decline....

The engineer in me would like to go back again, now that I have the iBOT. Since interest in technology is fascinating enough to counter many other forces. Though my interest in testing my theory hardly seems worth the time and effort to test my theory!

A more recent example....

I tend to join groups that take interest in the arts -- Wolfgang for the symphony at Benaroya, the BRAVO! club for the Opera, the Crew for the Seattle Repertory Theater.

Something about the different slant they put on their respective seasons -- something about aiming at younger audiences and trying to foster love of the arts, I just tended to find the seasons more interesting.

I usually don't even bother with discounted season tickets from these organizations -- better to pay full price, like a patron, in my mind. ;-)

In the most extreme case, my Seattle Symphony tickets are all in the Founder's Row at this point -- after getting hooked after a random upgrade, I got hooked on the better view, and sound!

I turned 40 nearly two years ago, but kept doing this. Why mess with what works? :-)

This is hardly just something I do -- I know of several others who violate the age rules, in each case, or all of them.

And then at one of the BRAVO! pre-season events, I was there and hanging out.

I was in the process of signing up, and then I made the mistake of giving my driver's license so they could get my name easily (my handwriting is not so great anymore -- another MS thing).

Now I'm not going to detail the exact way that my plans to join BRAVO! disintegrated. But I will say that I left almost immediately.

And haven't been to the Seattle Opera since.

Now I don't hate Japan.

Or the opera, for that matter.

At all.

And passive/aggressive reactions due to feeling a little bit burakumin (部落民) is hardly the most productive way to go through life.

Especially when you're dating someone who spent five years in Japan and who loves the opera!

I'm working on it....

And I'm fighting from making a pun about the fat lady singing!


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