I find that the definition of a bad day varies depending on where you live. For example, I grew up in Crystal River, Florida, where a bad day involved:
- Getting sideswiped by a senior citizen whose drivers’ license should have been revoked ten years ago
- Getting heckled by a Joe Dirt-type individual
- Discovering that no less than 500 love bugs have smashed themselves against your windshield
- Feeling in the mood for a sophisticated cultural evening and then remembering where you live
- Being told that the crab shack is out of mudbugs and gator tail
- Finding a perhaps cancerous mole on your skin. Thanks, sun.
- Having your hopes dashed – the rumor that a Boston Market is coming to town is, in fact, false
- Hitting yet another manatee in your speedboat. If they weren’t so stupid, maybe they wouldn’t be endangered.
10 years ago, I moved to New York City and those bad days in Crystal River slowly became such a misty memory for me that I had to really rack my brains to come up with that list. Contributing factors to bad days in New York, however, remain fresh. They involve:
- Waking up hours before your alarm is set to go off because of jack hammering on your block
- Handing over most of your monthly paycheck to your landlord
- Taking public transportation on a day that is either snowy or rainy. Think: Heaving crowds and slippery wet dirt.
- Missing the train because your Metro Card expired
- Losing your freshly-refilled Monthly Unlimited Metro Card
- Discovering that your favorite restaurant/club/haunt has been shut down and will be replaced by yet another Tasti D-Lite.
- Having your feet trampled by rats “playing” in the subway station
Etcetera. I could have probably included “Overhearing the tail end of a hipster’s conversation” but that would have been too expected and slightly untrue; call it a guilty pleasure. You’ll notice that a lot of my “Bad Day” criteria involved the MTA; New York’s public transportation system which I once thought was brilliant. That was, of course, before moving to Japan, where a bad day can involve:
- Missing your train. The magnificence of the Japanese train system elevates this daily annoyance to a full on disappointment.
- Being “late” for work. In Japan, arriving even one minute past official starting time will often require you to fill out a lateness report.
- Realizing your train is late because someone threw themselves in front of it.
- Discovering you accidentally bought – and ate – a past due-date onigiri and the convenience store.
- Being stared at. Even though it’s almost always genuine curiosity, it really does get old. You’re not a penguin at the zoo, for pete’s sake.
- Overhearing the word “gaijin” and, because you don’t really speak Japanese, wondering for the rest of the day if it was directed at you, directed at you in a negative sense, directed at you in a neutral sense, or directed at some Hollywood movie star. Again – Negative? Neutral? Oh, the possibilities.
- Opening your mouth and realizing that, today, your Japanese is worthless and, once again, you look like a fool.
- Shopping for underwear and having to buy a “Large.” In America, you’re an X-Small. Or … you were an X-Small. What has all this curry rice done to you???
- Biting into what looks like a lovely sugar-covered donut and tasting red bean paste. Or fish.
- Stepping on a dead cicada.
- Being hit by a speeding bicycle.
- Coming home from work only to discover that your bicycle has been stolen – again.
- Being drooled on by a sleeping sarariman on the train.
- Hitting your head on a doorframe built for a Japanese-sized person. So I hear.
Regardless of my location and stage in life, the constant is that there are few things that can’t be fixed by a good old raw fish fix.
Speaking of which.