A crisp, sunny Monday. This being my day off, and all my chores done (i.e., laundry hung out), I wander around Abenobashi, through some charming, old, condemned streets (mindless urban renewal has, sadly, yet to be discredited in Osaka). I take a few photos, buy a magazine which is written at roughly my level of Japanese (i.e., mostly pictures), buy a Big Issue from a homeless guy at the corner and cross over to the Starbucks behind Kintetsu Station.
It’s packed, but I notice that a few of of the outdoor tables, by the side exit, are free, and so out I go, and settle down at the last available table for a drink and a read. It’s at that point that I notice two women with baby strollers who have wandered up, cigarette packs and lighters at the ready. I am the only one seated alone at my table. Yes, it’s the de facto smoking section because smoking is forbidden inside, but there is (or was when I arrived) nowhere else to sit. A sideways staring contest ensues.
Now, these women have been shlepping their kids through shops and subways all day and are probably tired. If they look for a place inside the shop, I’m sure someone would offer them seats. Mothers get cut a lot of slack here. But since they are determined to sit in the smoking section (on a fairly cold day for a baby) and light up around their children, I don’t feel obliged to move at all. Both think me inconsiderate; I think them thoughtless. Finally, reluctantly, they go inside the shop. I feel righteous, like I’ve done a good deed or taught someone a valuable lesson.
It’s at that point when the sparrow in the branch above me poops on my head with a dull splat. A perfect bull’s-eye. I don’t stay long after that.
There’s a moral here somewhere, I suppose.