CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Lost in Gardena

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WIMPY

By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto

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Am sadly coming to the conclusion that my current life is a series of 168-hour cycles experienced solely for the purpose of exposing what a klutz I am to faithful CR2S readers. The latest event, Saturday, confirms this belief.

I had a 10 a.m. speaking engagement in Gardena. Always early, starting with birth, I left at 9 and turned off the 110 freeway at 9:22. When I arrived at Pastor Gary Shiozaki’s church at 9:25 it dawned on me I was at the wrong site. And did not know where I was supposed to be. (An extended explanation would take until next week so let’s just agree too many presumptions were made by too many people, bringing us to me sitting in an empty parking lot chagrined.)

Not to panic, right? Plenty of time. But I didn’t have Linda F’s nor Kinu N’s cell phone num­bers to guide me to the proper church. I called #3 son Jeff to get Mas D’s home number, a friend of Linda’s, to get a contact number. Calls to 323 and 626 area code numbers were unsuccessful. Having spent almost 30 years in Gardena added to the confidence that I would somehow find my way. In a stroke of genius I drove uptown to check all local church addresses at the Chamber of Commerce. It was closed. I went to Gardena PD. No luck. I thought about contacting a local resident or two but didn’t have their numbers. And I couldn’t re-contact Jeff (who was in a dentist’s chair) because, you wouldn’t believe, my cell phone went dead on me in this time of dire need!

By now it is 10:15 and the future looked awfully bleak. I began rehearsing my mea culpas to the ladies I would owe an apology to for messing up their club meeting program. Having already traversed all of the east/west streets between 178th and 190th in my blind quest, I decided to give it one more circuitous search of all the thoroughfares between Vermont and Normandy.

Call it whatever blind luck or perseverance rewarded but suddenly I came upon a heretofore untraversed single one block street marked 179th. I made an unenthusiastic left turn which took me past more pastoral homes and just when my aching back decided to inform me that enuf’ was enough, there stood a harried-looking Japanese man on the sidewalk frantically waving me to a stop. (It was exactly 10:30 a.m. An object lesson to the benefit of being early no matter where you’re going. And a reminder to have the common sense to know exactly where you’re headed.)

For the time being I choose not to identify the group addressed to save them the embarrassment of selecting someone who has two left feet but no GPS. Frank Omatsu, one of Keiro’s original seven founders, was fortunately a meeting guest and agreed to be a substitute speaker. He was in mid-speech when I finally arrived and graciously relinquished the microphone. (Had roles been reversed I would have done likewise – but I don’t think “graciously.”)

In recounting recent past CR2S indiscretions you’ll have to agree no one person could possibly be involved in ALL of them. A partial rundown would include boarding a wrong bus en route home from Las Vegas, losing my car in a mall parking lot, leaving groceries (twice) in a shopping cart. When meeting Rafu readers many cite my experience with the DMV amongst their favorites. I don’t believe Studs Terkel or David Halberstam are renowned for their misadventures.

But if mishaps are to be my ultimate trade mark, amen and so be it.

Time was when I never wanted to leave childhood remembrances behind. Mainly because of birthdays and Christmas. I mean, hey, nothing could top receiving gifts. Eventually I would learn that giving was an attribute. But, oh my, the ecstasy of getting never dimmed. Admittedly a character flaw, but what the hey, without something to compare against where would perfection be?

And the blemish remains intact.

Oops. Whatayaknow. By pure chance today happens to be my birth date. It matters not how many since it is NOT 18, 21 or 60. You’re not supposed to count after social security sets in, I believe. And since we’re constantly admonished to look forward, never backward, darned if yon horizon doesn’t seem to coming into focus too rapidly and the end of the proverbial tunnel looms ominously and I can’t see a light. A sudden cramp in my left leg reminds me of other earthly ills.

Returning to the pleasant past, I recall my sister getting a Royal portable typewriter on her 16th birthday (ours were both in November) and allowing me to practice on it. A year later she received two pink diaries and graciously gave me one, enabling me to start jotting down juvenile thoughts two weeks before Dec. 7, 1941. A daily habit that continued unabated for 10 years.

There were many other memorable memorabilia. I guess my first meaningful giving gesture was when I gave my future wife a (not-very-large) diamond ring. After which I continued my receiving ways. You are what you are, I guess.

With so many Christian and Buddhist friends who live by the giving credo, I feel it a duty to remind them a thoughtful (belated) gesture (to me) could be in the form of a (silent) thought or prayer. No phone call, note or card necessary. [As some of you know I hate to use telephone. And my cell is never on.]

Some years ago, when I last brazenly mentioned birthdays in a column, I was surprised with a hand-made ash tray gift. After which I stopped smoking, cold turkey. No epiphany. No manifestation. No reason.

[Just another creepy way to end a weekly recitation. Make of it what you will. And then tell me about it.]

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W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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