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Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007


Fortuitous courtesy on a train

St. Louis, Missouri

Roger Pulvers' July 29 Counterpoint article, "Erring voyager roots for Japanese courtesy that can't be beat," could not have been more timely. I read it within 48 hours of experiencing the same brand of uniquely Japanese courtesy of which Pulvers writes so admiringly. On the way to Tokyo Station on July 27, I inadvertently left my cell phone in the taxi. I discovered the loss an hour later on the Shinkansen train to Kyoto.

Fortuitously for me, the courteous Japanese man across the aisle from me spoke flawless English. After viewing my taxi receipt -- which, unlike any I've ever seen in any American city, was totally legible and showed both the telephone number of the taxi company and the number of the taxi in which I had ridden -- he used his own cell phone and confirmed to my astonishment that my phone had already been turned in. With a subsequent call, he arranged to have the phone sent for delivery the following day to my ryokan in Kyoto.

After discovering the loss, I had had no hope of ever seeing the phone again. My priority was simply to report the loss before whoever got hold of the phone incurred colossal charges. I have never been more pleasantly surprised in my life.

The gentleman across the aisle from me was the strength coach and interpreter for the Sendai Eagles, who were en route to Kobe for a game against the Buffaloes. He told me he had studied conditioning in the United States, where he had learned fluent English. I told him he and other Japanese could teach Americans far more than he had learned from us.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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