Good to get it confirmed early on, on this the third day of the new year, that I still, by the start of the two thousandth and seventeenth year of the Common Era, haven’t attained Buddhahood, that is to say complete enlightenment; not even close.
I enter a neighborhood drugstore with a ten pack of the el cheapo brand of toilet paper I always buy there (since the paper looks clean enough and I don’t need my tp, in fact prefer it not to be, perfumed), wait for the customer already at the register to be processed, and then step up to the register.
The cashier rings up my tp, which comes to 199 yen, tax included, and drawing two 100 yen coins from my change purse, I extend my hand to place them in her own. This is a tendency of mine – to want to place my money directly in the hand of the cashier – maybe because I feel doing things this way is warmer, friendlier than putting the money on the small plastic money tray, with its raised rubber grid, that Japanese stores almost invariably have placed for use on the register counter.
In most stores, this one included as best I recall, most cashiers are fine with doing it my way, but not this one. As I extend my hand holding the coins between thumb and fingers, the cashier raises the plastic tray, indicating I should place the coins on its rubber grid. I raise my hand higher and extend it again; she raises the tray further, signalling unequivocally that I’m to put the coins on the tray, not in her hand, so I do. She then places the tray on the counter takes the coins from the pad, and processes the transaction.
But then she holds out the one yen in change, along with the receipt, as though to place them directly in my hand, and that’s where I feel the anger, along with a dark satisfaction of revenge, as I say, “Please put that” – meaning the money – “there” – indicating the tray, which, after a moment of hesitation, she does. Then she holds out the receipt and I say, “That too,” so, after another moment’s hesitation, she places the receipt on the tray as well.
I take the yen coin and the receipt and our eyes stare directly at each other briefly, hers looking as hard as one yen coins (couldn’t say about mine though they more or less feel that way), as she says “Thank you” and I say “Thanks” back, then leave.