Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You are a fine gentleman (2).

(Continued from the previous entry)

I walked on along the twilight street, but my inner turmoil did not seem to calm down. It was obvious now that the lady in a black formal dress at the restaurant rejected us because of how I looked. I was wearing a jacket, but underneath it I had my T-shirt on, with very vivid illustrations.

Apparently it was a question of dress code. The salaryman and his girl, who came after us, were welcomed into the restaurant without any problem. In my view, they were rather homely people, without any particular distinctions. The fact that the lady at the restaurant welcomed them seemed to tell me something deep and sinister about society in general.

Maybe it was only my youthful imagination. Perhaps I should have worn a jacket and tie like the salaryman. But then I never wore a tie, unless it was absolutely necessary. And you never know beforehand that you would walk into a restaurant with a draconian requirement as to how customers should be dressed. It seemed not at all sensible to live in the shadow of a possible encounter with such an establishment.

The more I thought about it, the heavier my heart became. At least, the lady at the reception should have told me explicitly the dress code of their place. It was not sensible at all just to tell that we were not welcome. One might take it personally. I took it personally. I had to call the place.

I happened to have the card of the restaurant, which I took casually as I left. I phoned the number. After some ring tones, a woman's voice answered. I tried to be as calm and to the point as possible.

"Hello. we are the customers who have just visited your place. You told me that you had no table this evening. After we left, we saw a salary man couple walk into the restaurant. Apparently they had no reservation. If your rejection was based on a dress code, you should have told us so. I think it would have been only fair. I don't think we would visit your restaurant ever again. Good bye!"

When I told the lady about the salary man couple, she seemed to gasp on the other end. When I hung up, I felt I had done all I could do, and the best thing would be to forget about it. But my inner wounds seemed to remain unhealed, tormenting me with every step.

I started to walk on street again, looking for a place to rest my soul.

My girl friend, who was listening to my conversation on the phone and therefore understood the situation for the first time (she was not someone who would naturally notice these things), held my hand and said, "you know, you are a fine gentleman".
Her gentle voice finally provided the consolation for the evening. It came as unexpected as the rejection at the reception.

(End of this essay.)


Pupa said...

I don't notice concretely what is wrong with the manner of the lady in a black formal dress, but I understand the absence of communication.

We can't advise others without consideration.
Perhaps she saved her breath, and consequently discomfort the sentient young couple.

I'm interested to know more why humans establish formality all over the world. Though I have no formal dress on me except potential wings...

maruko247 said...

A number of years ago, I was at an airport lounge in Narita, desperately needing to send a fax. I went to the elegant-looking lady who was manning the reception counter in my lounge and asked, rather forcefully, for her help. She called the back office, which was not quite open yet, to inquire about the use of their fax machine, explaining to them in front of my face, “お客様がヒツッコクテ・・・“ I was shocked.
Ten minutes later, everything was taken care of. I thanked the lady profusely (in English, of course) and gathered my bags to go to my gate. As I was walking out of the door, still thanking her and apologizing for my aggressive behavior, I casually said, “でも、「ヒツッコイ」は、ないんじゃないですか?“ I heard her choking as I left; I was avenged.
She had assumed by my appearance (I am of mixed parentage, but I don’t look very Japanese) and my pushy attitude (I did feel bad about that, but I was desperate to get my fax off), that I would not speak the local language (Japanese is my mother tongue). I hope she was a bit more careful with her customers thereafter.
As for my part, the incident continues to give me something to laugh about as well as to contemplate. Was I was being deceptive, negotiating in English? Perhaps so, but the fact is, it’s hard to be aggressive when you’re communicating in Japanese . . .

hoppyhoppe said...

This episode tastes bitter and makes me feel making a firm fist.

Obviously You have behaved as a gentleman, unless cold and unfair treatment on reception.

But also this is a exceptionally beautiful and furuitiful experience.This shows "RAGE&COURAGE","HOPE",and"SYMPATHY".

You have become elder with this kind of episode deeply inside your mind & heart ,So you would be a real gentleman someday. Keep go on.

MK said...

Warm story.
You were/are such a delicate and naive man.

I don't know the way how the woman at the reception said when you tried to enter the restaurant,
but she may have thought it won't hurt you if she said the restaurant was full, instead of saying explicitly face to face that your dress is not suitable. No?

Your story reminded me of the evening when I went to a Chinese restaurant in London with a man.
At the entrance, we asked if we could have a seat upstairs because it looked a bit crowded on the ground floor.
Suddenly a Chinese waitress in the back said something in Chinese.
I didn't understand what she said, but my company fully understood the sentence, "Japanese don't need to have a seat upstairs, the ground floor is enough for them!"
Eventually, we succeeded in having a seat upstairs, but he looked seriously damaged for a while...
Man sometimes becomes a fragile creature.

Anyway your girlfriend looks like a goddess to you.
I learned how a lady should act when your boyfriend became deeply sensitive.

Anonymous said...

i love this short story!

you are a fine gentleman. :)

yuzu said...

I'm sooooo happy to read your essay.You are always a beautiful gentleman.

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

Good fight! I also respect your girl friend.

I'd like to propose one idea for her.
You should visit the restaurant now again, of course, without a tie.You now must be welcomed without doubt.

After being seated, you should make a phone call to your girl friend in that era.

"Were you waiting long? So sorry. But I could manage to secure the seats for us."

Anonymous said...

This situation was in every society. We can’t ignore the social norm or what other people expect us to be even if the way we dressed.

Joybird said...

Regarding your comments on English eduaction in Japan, we should aim for passing Cambridge General English Exams instead of Toeic or Eiken tests.

Petrusa de Koker said...

Indeed you are a fine gentlemen (no matter what t-shirt you are wearing). I think Tetsu Sunayama’s idea to go back there now, is excellent. :-)
Your story reminds me of one time when my dearly beloved husband and I happened to be in a similar situation. …but with totally different outcome. We were young and married for only a year or two at the time. We were on our way home from a 2-week safari in the Kalahari Trans-frontier Park and we have been in the car all day, driving all the way from Askam (near the Botswana border) to Cape Town. When dusk fell we turned into Matjiesfontein, a small village that actually only consists of a railway station with a hotel. We decided on the spur of the moment that we are going to stay overnight in the Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein, rather than go on to Cape Town since we were still about 3 hours from home and we were tired. There was no problem booking into the Lord Milner, since Matjiesfontein is in the middle of nowhere and guests are few and far between. The Lord Milner is a wonderful old Victorian building, beautifully restored and cared for (by a German owner and an arrangement of staff members). When we inquired about dinner the lady at the front desk informed us that dinner is a formal affair and men are required to wear a jacket and tie and women must be dressed up (or at least make an attempt to dress up). We had nothing but khaki pants, cotton shirts and hiking boots with us – we just came from the Kalahari! However, she graciously told us that it should not be a problem, if my husband only had one clean shirt with a collar and a pair of long pants. Well, he had. She then showed us a collection of ties and a couple of jackets that she keeps in a cupboard in her office. He selected a brown tie and tried on a few of the jackets till he found a blue-ish one that more or less fitted. With that we went back to our room and he dressed in khaki pants, a green shirt, brown tie and blue-ish jacket. Fortunately I could wear my own khaki skirt, white blouse (which the chambermaid quickly ironed for me) and sandals. We could not help giggling a lot as we came downstairs – my dearly beloved holding the jacket over his arm by now, since the rules only stated that men should have a jacket on (and that could be “on his arm” as well). We had a lovely dinner and a wonderful stay in Matjiesfontein. Since then, we have gone back to the Lord Milner on various occasions …and every time we make sure we pack clothes for dinner. :-)

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

Dear Petrusa-san,

Thank you for your warm comment and beautiful experiences.