CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Musings of an Elder (Who Is Pretty Damn Old)

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WIMPY1By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

(Published March 2, 2016)

Attended a meeting the other day. Stilted introductions opened proceedings. Distribution of an information packet followed. Laptops prevail so everyone is on the same page, focused on the correct topic (almost).

While shuffling papers looking for Item A, everyone else is referencing Item B. As one who remembers when a typewriter turned out originals that became onionskin copies by way of carbon paper magic, this laptop stuff is impressive but baffling.

That’s when my Jappo ability to adapt came to the rescue. A show of calm assuredness erases an urge to panic. I sit cool as a kyuri, figuring silence just might be construed as being a deep thinker. You know, a display of confidence, like a relief pitcher coming into the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Roberts Rules of Order was displaced by Confidential magazine long ago, so formal meetings were avoided like the plague. I turned to reporting meetings rather than attending them.

There is an uncomfortable situation that should be avoided at all cost: being the eldest at a gathering.   Initially there is a display of reverence (Sansei having learned good manners from parents), but quickly dissipates when serious business get under way.

It’s very difficult for CR2S to remain silent. Any time, any place. It doesn’t matter if it’s a raucous sporting event, social gathering or funeral. The urge to say something is forever present. Often it’s because a discussion calls for commentary or challenge; sometimes no excuse is necessary. Thanks to a wise wife, a timely nudge became a Pavlovian signal. Thus did I learn to weigh in at mostly timely moments. [Unfortunately, I stumble on occasions since her passing.]

Anyway, folks, the meeting was a revelation. It served as a reminder that time marches on and all that “remember when” stuff. [Even I sometimes tire of remembrances and reminiscing.] It’s no longer quaint and amusing admitting to ignorance when it comes to modern modes of communication and being unconcerned about social media and its ramifications. Let’s just say I am aware it’s 2016 and leave it at that.

To show it wasn’t a complete disaster, I turned the leftover lunch into dinner.

Being immune to change is nothing to brag about, but I’m beginning to believe maybe stubbornness is an acquired trait. CR2S was raised prewar under Issei tutelage, which had down as well as upsides. Then came the once-in-a-lifetime episode called evacuation, which meant a stunted maturation, to put it mildly. Once freed, a less than encouraging postwar world had to be confronted. Despite such a unique (for want of a better word) resume, things turned out pretty okay. At least WTH made more honor rolls than police blotters. Somehow working up the white man’s ladder to a level of some accomplishment. Far from the top, but that’s okay, at least my middle name isn’t Ichiro.

So yeah, maybe I’m trying to find excuse for not using a smart phone or make my computer do more than process words. But looking over my shoulder, to (mis)quote Satchel Paige (from memory, rather than Google), I don’t see nobody catching up so reckon I’ll just keep moseying along.

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Last week’s column on volunteerism elicited much commentary, most positive and in agreement. There was a single voice of protest challenging a contention that Pacifica (+North Star/Aspen) does not benefit monetarily from Keiro volunteer program: “(H)ow in the world can you deny (the buyer) does not gain and save dollars from the existing programs?” she asks. Specific examples to support her argument followed.

Again, I repeat: the vast majority of Japanese-themed activities are addendums, bonuses, extracurricular. If a sensei didn’t teach and instruct at Keiro Retirement Home, the classes wouldn’t exist. When supportive children, adults and professionals entertain, their contributions can’t be replicated. Granted, to continue the half-dozen or so exercise classes, North Star could hire outside help if a volunteer instructor resigned. Or simply choose to eliminate the activity.

The complainant certainly displayed a wide range of knowledge regarding community involvement. She pointed out Betty Yumori’s annual contribution of sashimi for a special resident lunch; Umeya’s constant donation of sembei; (a beleaguered Frank Kawana whose) Yamasa kamaboko is a staple. She points to two vans donated by Friends of Keiro Retirement Home.

To be sure, a monetary value can be placed on all these gestures. But again, they are adjuncts, individual efforts that may or may not be continued in the future. CR2S is quite certain most will, but if they’re discontinued, just the residents will be the losers, not new management.

Let’s say an English language class is discontinued for lack of a volunteer leader. Whether the void is refilled would depend upon finding another volunteer. If not, North Star has the option of hiring a replacement — or not. Again, only residents bear the loss.

It is obvious CR2S is not a scintillating debater. When backed against the proverbial wall, I’m apt to use bad language rather than discuss. In this instance, the loss of Keiro is convincing an unhappy lady to retaliate. Only time will tell if the program continues intact. I hope so.

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[#Jappo deserves2ask: why chris rock wear white tux & make hollywood only two color?]

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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