I had to go to the Taito Ward Office this morning to change my gaikokujin torokusho (alien registration card). It was not very pleasant. First I had to pay 600 yen in the automatic photo booth they have there for the requisite photos - money I begrudge for a card I dislike. Then the woman who first attended to me got all hot and bothered when I didn't immediately and succinctly state my business but showed her instead the notice I'd received from the ward office.
"Is this for a change of information on the card?," she asked. I didn't know. I'd simply got a notice asking me to come down and get a new one. It didn't say why.
She exasperatedly motioned for a middle-aged man to attend to me. And, I mean, how busy are these people? It's 8.30 in the morning, there are only about 4 other Taito ward residents along the counter that runs the length of the vast hall that forms the ground floor, while there's a positive army of office staff behind the partition, sitting on their asses at their desks, doing god knows what with Taito ward's tax money.
The middle aged man came up to me - blustery, brusque, and cursed with the profoundly annoying habit of repeating everything he said in Japanese in loud, breathless, urgent, broken English, at least two of three times over in rapid fire succession, like an old-school teacher rousing a slowpoke pupil.
In the midst of all his rhetorical "giddy-up" exhorting, he had failed to check with me what information on the old card was still relevant, and we ended up going back to square one and refilling out the form. “Chekku, chekku, chekku!” he rattled out in bad breath at me the second time.
In spite of my having maintained our stressful "conversation" in close-to-perfect Japanese the whole way through, and written my occupation, address, etc. in kanji, I was still one of the "new-caught sullen peoples, Half devil and half child" who had to be hastened and incited and pidgin-Englished into doing what I had to do. And his attitude had so browned me off, that that's almost how it ended up being: ill-humored gaijin having to be spurred along by industrious, "gambaru"-ing bureaucrat.
I have to go back in two weeks to pick up my card that proves I’m tagged and tolerated. I will go in my best halo this time, I promise.
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Saturday, July 03, 2010