HORSE’S MOUTH: Let It Be Evergreen

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

This is a follow-up to a letter I printed in my previous column.

I didn’t publish the name of the letter-writer because I assumed that she didn’t want to be recognized. Well, I was wrong. She didn’t mind being named. so I’m now printing her second letter to me.

It’s from a reader named Setsuko Onoda. This is what she wrote:

“Wow! I said when I saw the heading of your column today. I am the one who wrote the letter to you hoping you would publish it. I was skeptical about it since I have written to ‘Letters to the Editor’ to the Japanese section and they didn’t want to publish it. I just wanted others to take some action instead of just ignoring it.

“I hope some people will write to the cemetery and they will do something. Thank you, thank you, a million times from the bottom of my heart. If anyone writes to you about the letter, can you possibly let me know?

“P.S. We have contacted the management by telephone to make a complaint. Management said they were not allowed to water the cemetery because of watering restrictions from the city. I think that’s bull because other cemeteries are kept nice and green.”

Thanks to Setsuko. I’m sure I’ll get some responses to her letter, both pro and con.

I will print every one I get because this is an interesting issue involving the Japanese American community.

I haven’t visited Evergreen for at least a decade, but because the matter has been brought to my attention, I will drive over next week to get a first-hand look at the issue as it has been presented.

As those of you who are kind enough to read my columns know, I am addicted to buying the California lottery tickets each week.

I’ve never come close to winning the top prize, so over the past week or so, I contemplated giving up on purchasing my weekly tickets.

Then this event shook me up.

No, I didn’t come close to winning, but the place where I buy my tickets, a 7-11 store located on Redondo Beach Boulevard, only a few blocks from my house, had a ticket buyer who selected five numbers correctly but just missed the $40 million by not “getting” the mega number.

As it turned out, hitting five numbers without the mega earned him nearly $200,000.

Needless to say, this is the first time the nearly top prize was purchased so close to my house.

So, I guess I’ll continue to buy and dream.

In the meanwhile, I noticed that a lot of people are lined up at the 7-11 to buy tickets for the next drawing on Tuesday.

So, I don’t feel like the only sucker being dragged into buying a ticket.

Yahoo recently published a list of the worst restaurants to work for.

The reason? Wages.

The survey said that workers who cook, prepare and serve the food suffer from poverty wages, no benefits like paid sick leave, and little or no chance to move up to better positions.

Workers are entitled to a minimum wage of $7.50 per hour if they do not receive tips and $2.13 cents an hour if they do, as well as overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. If tips and wages don’t add up to $7.25 per hour, the employer is obligated to make up the difference.

But many workers aren’t aware that they’re entitled to payment for all of the hours they work, let alone at what rate. And a wage gap exists even among workers making the bare minimum that the government requires employers to pay.

Women, immigrants and people of color hold lower-paying positions in the industry and do not have many opportunities to move up the ladder.

Among the 4,300 workers surveyed, it was learned that there is a $4 wage gap between white workers and workers of color and 73 percent reported not receiving regular promotions on the job.

I glanced at the list of restaurants named and found eight that I frequently dine at or take out food from. I don’t think reading the foregoing will change my eating habits.

The one thing that sort of surprised me was that unskilled workers at the various eateries listed make $7.25 an hour.

Since I grew up in an era (early ’30s) when 50 cents an hour was considered great wages, it’s hard for me to imagine someone washing dishes in a restaurant getting $7.25 an hour. If they put in 10 hours, they earn $72.50 a day.

At 50 cents an hour, I earned 5 bucks a day or $35 a week if I worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week.

Of course, in those days a cup of coffee cost 10 cents and a hamburger sandwich was 25 cents.

Oh well…

I doubt if too many, if any, Nisei tourists to Japan have stayed at what they call “capsule hotels.”

Capsule hotels don’t offer rooms. It’s more like a hole in the wall equipped with a mattress.

Well, recently a New York hotel owner decided to copy the Japanese by presenting an offshoot of the capsule accommodations with affordable prices.

The story on the new facilities labeled them as “little more than sleeping space, somewhat like a coffin in a mausoleum.”

The first “capsule hotel” in New York City was the 345-room Pod Hotel on East 51st Street in Midtown, with rates of $89 per night, far less than the minimum $200 per night charged at other “low-cost” facilities.

Other capsule hotels are being planned in New York City by other developers, including two hotels in Manhattan in 2013 and one on 50th Street in Times Square.

One developer was quoted as saying, “Our inspiration was the Japanese capsule hotels.”

While the capsule hotels in Japan are quite popular, some wonder if the physical size of most Americans, as compared to the smaller Japanese, would result in many being unable to rent the American version of the capsule hotels.

If the New York capsules are successful, other cities may follow suit.

We’ll see…

Speaking of New York, people who live there are learning that one doesn’t have to be of Japanese ancestry to make sushi.

The reason?

Well, the most popular sushi parlor in New York is Neta on West 8th Street and the sushi master there is Rick Kim.

Neta is a collaboration of two longtime disciples of sushi master Masa Takayama, Kim and Jimmy Lau.

Lau was the head chef of Masa’s Sushi in Las Vegas.

Kim says the popularity of sushi he makes reflects Japanese food with local ingredients, like scallops from Massachusetts.

Yes, and the prices are “made in Japan.” Their “omakase” menu costs from $95 to $135.

They do have smaller plates from $9 to $45.

Since California is “next door” to Las Vegas, it’s doubtful if casino gambling outside of the Indian reservations will ever become a part of the Golden State.

But, a lot of other states are now permitting casinos to open, so perhaps California will one day also make casino gambling (outside of the Indian casinos) legal.

Many states are now letting casinos open. The latest example is the State of Maryland.

Baltimore recently started offering a casino within its city limits with 2,700 slot machines in a site called the Arundel Mills Mall, and plans are to expand to 4,740 slots shortly.

Such a casino with that many slots would be equal to a lot of Vegas casinos.

Plans for the company to expand to cities like Philadelphia and Cleveland have also been announced.

Of course, those opposed to casino gambling are said to be prepared to fight such expansion.

According to reports, there are now 950,000 slot machines in the U.S. outside of Nevada.

Perhaps with the move to install casinos in many states, Hawaii may follow suit.

The Island State has long sought to open casinos because it has always been known to politicians as the home to so many who travel to Las Vegas to participate in casino play.

If such a thing happens in Hawaii, it most certainly would affect Vegas, especially in the Downtown area.

Of course, I doubt if it will ever happen in the Islands because as many people oppose it as favor it.

A reader sent me something that is a little frightening.

It’s a list of every Japanese American who was evacuated and sent to a relocation camp.

The names of every JA who was rounded up after Pearl Harbor and sent to camps are listed alphabetically.

I punched in the “Y” list and saw 58 people with the Yoshinaga surname. When I came across “George Yoshinaga,” I hit the key and was amazed at the information about me.

Among the information about me was the city where I was born and the year.

My parents’ names and where they came from in Japan.

Also, what my parents did for a living. Farming.

Also what I did. Also farming.

My educational background: Completed high school in Mountain View.

The camp I was sent to: Heart Mountain. And the assembly center: Santa Anita. And a lot of other information that I won’t publish here.

Since I wanted to look at the records of some other people I know, I punched in their names and got the same kind of information on their background.

I don’t know who compiled the list of all JAs who were sent to camps, but as I said, it’s kind of scary that such information is available to anyone who can get their hands on the list.

I printed out every name on the list and it filled a lot of pages. In fact, I had to go to Office Depot to buy another ream of printing paper.

Just thought I’d let those interested know that such information is available.

Well, after that scary piece, let me see if I can make everyone laugh. Today’s rib-tickler can be entitled “Signs.”

• Sign over a gynecologist’s office: Dr. Jones at your cervix.

• In a podiatrist’s office: Time wounds all heels.

• On a septic tank truck: Yesterday’s meals on wheels.

• At an optometrist’s office: If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.

• On a plumber’s truck: We repair what your husband fixed.

• On another plumber’s truck: Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.

• On a church’s billboard: Seven days without God makes one weak.

• At a tire shop in Gardena: Invite us to your next blowout.

• At a towing company: We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want tows.

• On an electrician’s truck: Let us remove your shorts.

• On a maternity room door: Push, push, push.

• On a taxidermist’s window: We really know our stuff.

• At a car dealership: The best way to get back on your feet — miss a car payment.

• Outside a muffler shop: No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.

• At the electric company: We will be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don’t, you will be.

• In a restaurant window: Don’t stand there and be hungry. Come on in and get fed up.

• In the front yard of a funeral home: Drive carefully. We’ll wait.

• Chicago radiator shop: Best place in town to take a leak.

• On the back of another septic tank truck: Caution — This truck is full of political promises.

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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