[Paleopsych] USELESS PEOPLE: Japan is filled with useless people

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Wed Apr 27 19:28:52 UTC 2005

USELESS PEOPLE: Japan is  filled with useless people

              Japan is filled with workers who do almost nothing.  You
    probably haven't needed a crossing guard to help you across the
    since you were five years old, but you can find crossing guards on
    quiet streets far away from schools and playgrounds here.  Operating
    an ATM should be the simplest thing in the world, but almost every
    bank has a "lobby lady" to help you with your transaction and in case
    you find the task of pushing an elevator button too overwhelming,
    there are elevator girls in a lot of the big department stores.  Flag
    men do, of course, play an important role in directing traffic around
    construction sites on busy roads, but do drivers on back streets
    really need three or four old men to direct them, when there are
    already 5000 pylons around the site?
              The reason for all the useless people is that these jobs
    giving retired people with small pensions a way to earn some extra
    money, and, depending on how you look at it, the dignity of having a
    job (even if it is a useless one).  It also keeps the unemployment
    rate down.

    In the city of Himeji one Sunday afternoon, there were a pair of old
    men directing traffic at every street corner in the downtown area.  I
    had to wait about two minutes for a car to come by so that I could
    an "action shot".

    This guy is directing traffic even though there is a working traffic
    light right behind him.  They actually inconvenience people by
    preventing them from crossing when there are no cars coming.

    Did you know that an elevator girl bows an average of 2500 times a

    At a Kyuudo exhibition these women sat patiently behind the male
    archers, helping them to pull their kimono off their shoulders before
    they made their shots, and fetching their arrows.
    Come on guys.  Pick up your own arrows!

    Go to any museum in Japan, and you will see an elegant looking lady
    sitting in one corner of almost every room.  They don't do anything,
    they don't say anything, and they don't seem to know anything about,
    or be particularly interested in, the art around them.  These human
    scarecrows just sit their calmly for hours and hours without moving,
    their laps covered by a little blanket.

    These useless people are also some of the most annoying in Japan.
    During elections  you are sure to be the victim of an audio assault
    campaign vans cruise through the neighbourhoods pumping out political
    rhetoric at volumes that leave you with ringing ears and the feeling
    of having been physically attacked.  The vans are filled with
    volunteers who lean out the windows waving at anyone who catches
    eye, like bored kids on a long car trip.  When they drive by you,
    cover your ears with your hands and look angry to show them how
    annoying they are being.  Haven't they ever heard of lawn signs?

    The Japanese real estate agent is the king of useless middlemen.  If
    you want to make some easy money, just become a real estate agent and
    you will be entitled to one month's rent (any where from US$500 to
    $2000) from your customers for doing nothing more than showing them a
    few housing plans and then, if you're really on the ball, maybe
    driving them to take a look at the apartment (but usually just giving
    them a key and telling them to go look for themselves).  It is very
    difficult to find accomodation in Japan without going through a real
    estate agency, causing something that should as easy as looking
    through the classified ads or walking around looking for 'For Rent'
    signs to become a long, involved, and ridiculously expensive process.
    Even if you contact a building owner directly, you generally have to
    pay the real estate agent's fee.  If you simply must go through a
    estate agent, be careful of the free magazines that you see in all
    major shopping districts and near big stations.  They are filled with
    great looking apartments at too-good-to-be-true prices.  And they are
    too good to be true.   They are never available when you call, but
    agency always has a similar one that's just "a little more
    expensive".  If you are interested in finding [2]alternative,
    long-term accomodation in Japan, click here.

    This is not a useless person, but it was obviously thought up by one.

    You always hear about how good the service is in Japan, and in some
    ways its true.   Employees are unfailingly polite, come running when
    you call, routinely go the extra-mile to help customers, and will
    you the deepest, most respectful bows you have ever seen in your
    life.  If however, you define service as being knowledgeable about
    products they sell, or as being capable of making sure that a
    goes home with the merchandise that is right for him or her, then you
    may be disappointed.   Electronics store workers in particular are
    notorious for their lack of knowledge about the products they sell.
    At the famous discount electronics retailer, Yodobashi Camera, for
    example, you will find people in the computer department who have
    never used any of the software they are selling, do not own their own
    computer, and cannot answer simple questions without calling in two
    three other employees who inevitably have no more idea than the first
    one did and usually end up calling in the manager or telephoning the
    product's manufacturer.

    a close relative to the crossing guards, these guys are a real treat
    to watch "in action." Construction crews generally leave with their
    equipment in the morning, and return in the evening.  So what exactly
    does a pensioner wearing a powder blue jumpsuit and fancy
    helmet reminiscent of "Buck Rogers" or "Kamen Rider" have to do in
    interim? Sit upright in a foldable deck chair placed at the entrance
    to the storage lot, under the guise of being the guy who directs
    equipment on and off the road in a full-time capacity. And wait
    for 7 and a half hours until the crew comes back at quitting
    time.--Kindly submitted by Justin Thorne

    These are the guys that wave to important school dignitaries, and
    directions to the 2 or 3 people a day who ask them.  They stay on in
    the guard shack until the wee hours, presumably just in case the
    faculty has an unannounced emergency planning meeting at 10:30 PM in
    the library, and the gate needs to be open.--Kindly Submitted by
    Justin Thorne

    I'm staying with my wife's family in Nagano prefecture and I've been
    reminded of a perfectly useless job in Japan: door-to-door mop head
    replacers. Here in the Japan Alps it's pretty inaka (country)...
    hick town. They have a cool koi (carp) pond but no flush toilets. I
    was just using the phone in the genkan and some man came and
    himself. He was giving a mop head replacement to her grandmother who
    had ordered one. Why hasn't the fact that people can buy these mop
    heads easily at any store made this useless job a thing of the past?
    Truly a useless person.--Kindly submitted by Greg Bower

    I'd like to nominate those people that drive around every Sunday in
    their vans, blaring their megaphones, selling laundry poles. How
    do people really need to buy a new laundry pole? I think once every 5
    years would be sufficient, but these people somehow feel the need to
    drive by at 8 in the morning EVERY Sunday in my neighbourhood. -
    Kindly submitted by Michael Louie


    2. http://www3.tky.3web.ne.jp/~edjacob/house.html

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