The reason for the lack of action on my blog is because I was preoccupied with a gig in the last week, as I helped a tour guide with his tour in Kyoto for a week. Unfortunately, I got sick, and I’m still recovering (only the weakness and dizziness are left). While I helped the lost souls to understand the Japanese “miraculous” way of doing things, and find the reasoning behind their new and uncharted environment, I couldn’t help but feel mildly torn apart.
I went to recover forgotten bags, help people in the group to order food (they have no clue what they are eating most of the time) and many more things, that were my job, I got paid (little) for those actions. In some instances, I did things that weren’t trivial. In the last three days, I became quite sick but tried to put up with it. One day after the schedule was over, I decided to catch a cab to my own guest house because it was raining, I felt not so good and didn’t want to walk in the rain for 20+ minutes. The problem was that everybody in Kyoto had the same idea, so cab after cab was occupied. They have over 10,000 taxis over a small area which is Kyoto city, and I think they were all taken. When I tried to ask the hotel to order a cab, I was told that the line is busy for the past hour or two, so they cannot help me with that. While I tried to catch a cab, two women (all of them were around my mother’s age) came outside hoping to find a cab also. At that moment, miraculously, a taxi had stopped in front of us, and someone got off. I waited for some time for a cab, but instead of taking it, I let the two other ladies take it. After enough cabs passed by me, all occupied, I realized that It would be much faster if I walked back to my guest house, and that is what I did.
The next day, of course, they didn’t ask me if I was okay because I got used to the idea that most people are just self-centered and pay little attention to others problems. But still, when I parted ways with the group, they thanked me and felt a bit sad. When I retrieve a lost bag, or offered explanations to various things, of course, they were thankful, but I just replied that “it is my job” or something along this line of thought. Thinking back on this, and trying to add this experience to other topics I’ve discussed in my blog, about money and market economy pushing human values out an such, I couldn’t help but to doubt most of our human interactions.
When I go to a doctor, and he helps to resolve a medical condition I have, I thank him. When I use a service, like the Amazon to get a book I want to read, I thank the mailman. Most of our human interactions revolve around business, meaning money making mechanisms. It is mostly during working hours (of either of us) that we interact with “people.” After work, we just go home and rarely interact with people we do not know. Another instance when we talk to strangers is when we (a very euphemized word) “networking.” People meet and talk to people for the sake of creating a “network.”, Meaning “maybe he or she could help me advance myself or find opportunities. Meaning: make more money. So meeting a friend of a friend and such, becomes a “business” activity. Some people take this idea to the next level, and treat every single encounter they have, as a chance. This makes me sick. They treat everybody as a wallet.
So as Adam Smith said: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” It turns out that he was right. Not because this is the human nature, but because the current system that dictates and govern our interactions with almost everyone we meet, construct us to behave like that.
Why did they thank me? Why does anyone thank anyone else for their work? Why do we tip the waitress or the bartender? They are doing their job. In Japan, they don’t tip, because people do their job and they get paid for it, and it has nothing to do with the customer. Why don’t I tip my doctor? Why don’t secretaries get a tip from their bosses? Why does it end in very limited places? The feeling that most interactions revolve around “business” and take place in the market economy make human morals and values obsolete. Sure it is nicer for everyone to say “thank you,” but it feels a bit awkward to say it to someone who clearly helps me out of sheer interest.
What do you think about this issue?