Location: California, United States

There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (the five people you meet in heaven)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Privacy: A Cultural Concept
Once when I was learning Japanese, someone told me that there is no native Japanese word for privacy because the cultural concept doesn’t exist. The Japanese use the English word with Japanese pronunciation, pronounced pu-rye-bah-shee.

There are times that I return to the hotel at lunchtime for a myriad of reasons. A few weeks ago, I told Sa that I checked the thermostat at noon and it was off, but when I got back from work, it was on. I had hung out the privacy sign, but I thought that the hotel staff was entering anyway. She asked me if I thought the thermostat could be automatically programmed to go on if the room got cold. (I always leave the window open to get rid of a bit of the stuffiness.) Well, it seemed unlikely, but, perhaps…

Today, I came back to the hotel around 3 and was lying in bed reading before leaving again. I had actually dozed off when the phone rang. I was surprised to find that it was the front desk. The hotel staffer told me, “I know you have the privacy sign hung out, but we wanted to perform the additional afternoon cleaning. Can we come do that or did you really mean ‘privacy’?” To tell you the truth, I was a little shocked. I told the man that I would be leaving in half an hour and asked could they wait until that time. I left, and when I returned, the garbage had been emptied, and the hand towel I had used had been replaced with a fresh one. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I looked at the Privacy sign to hang on the door and realized something. While I had always noticed that PRIVACY was written in capital letters in English, the small Japanese above says, “Please don’t wake me (us) up.” So much for the concept of privacy.
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