Wednesday, March 30, 2016

K.O. Outtake #5: Pray the Lord My Soul to Keep

The following is an outtake from You Can't Spell Tokyo Without K.O.: A photo-essay dissecting the Japanese epidemic of passing out in public. This text was ultimately edited out of the final version for one reason or another (redundant, or didn't fit the book's tone, or distracted from the book's main themes, etc.), but I'm including it here because at least one beta reader mentioned that he or she found it worth reading.

Pray the Lord My Soul to Keep

Did this gentleman, in a droopy-eyed daze of fatigue, stumble up to the vending machine in hopes of refueling himself with caffeine, only to find his wallet empty and the adjacent ATM occupied, at which point frustration and exhaustion overcame him, and he fell to the ground with a final grunt of dissatisfaction? Some sort of grievance certainly must have embittered him, or perhaps he simply slogs through life in a perpetual foul mood, because when roused by the casual chatter of Mother and Son passing by, he barked at them — half in the figurative sense of yelling words, and half in the literal sense of barking like a dog.

Contrary to the shivering salaryman in Akihabara who snuggled up next to a cold pile of garbage, this gentleman reaped the benefits of warm vending machine exhaust, as well as the soothing white noise of soft mechanical humming that could lull him to sleep if not for the chatter of passersby. As far as places to nap on the street during winter, one could certainly do worse.

Though his soiled winter coat and partially outstretched hands gave him the slight appearance of a beggar, it is extremely unlikely that he was homeless, judging from his relatively recent haircut, his clean dress pants and dress shoes, and most of all his location. The homeless generally stay out of public view, congregating in makeshift cardboard communities under bridges, in specific corners of large parks, and so forth, and they almost never resort to begging, perhaps because — like most Japanese people — they strive to avoid creating any sort of conflict, nuisance, or inconvenience.

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