I realize that it’s a worn-out cliché, but after twenty years it still impresses me that the average Japanese is reliably honest enough for you to be able to leave your iPhone, MacBook Pro, and handbag with a cash-filled wallet in it on the table of a busy café downtown when nature makes an untimely call. Were I in the U.S., I would have to scoop up all my belongings and take them to the can with me. Leave anything behind at an American table and more often than not you’ll return to find yourself liberated of it. And if you grumble about it, people will scold you for being naïve, no stupid, enough to have left your things unguarded in the first place.
Several years ago, I forgot my new iBook at an ATM downtown. It didn’t dawn on me until about twenty minutes later that it was missing. I had since popped into a café, got my latte from the counter, had sat myself down at a table outside. In virtual Hanna-Barbera fashion, I opened up the invisible iBook and started to type on the keyboard only to realize that it wasn’t there. Let me tell you, no one has ever bolted faster from a Seattle’s Best Coffee. I ran all the way back into town, returning to the ATM where, expecting the worst, I was surprised to find my notebook computer exactly where I had left it. In the thirty to forty minutes that it had been there no one had so much as bothered to touch or move it. Granted, the uprightness may have been encouraged by a number of high-definition security cameras. Had I made the same mistake in America, though, I would have surely kissed that iBook goodbye.
All I can say is thank God for moral atheists! The good Christians from the sinful shores of Amerikay could learn a thing or two from them.