Saturday, March 19, 2011

Toilet Papers

The power is up all day today, and hopefully until Monday. Monday is a national holiday.

This morning, I went grocery shopping after talking with my children in a conference call. They are concerned about me, and I appreciate it very much. It was 10:50 am when I arrived at the market, and about twenty people lined up in front of it. The shop used to open from 9 am to 8 pm, but because of the power cuts, their current schedule is 11 am to 6 pm.

While I waited in the line, I chatted with a few shoppers. I said to one woman,

“I heard fire fighters shot tons of seawater into the No. 3 reactor, but have you heard the result?”

She shook her head.

“I hope we hear a good news,” I said. “I hope the radiation rate has gone down.”

“If they have any good news, they would have already announced it,” she said in a scolding way.

Her mood became darker than she already looked. She said it in a way that the news was in fact bad, therefore, we were not told. Gee, she was a spooky looking woman.  Very depressing. 

The store opened at 11 am. Twenty or more people were already behind me. They were all very quiet.

I didn’t need toilet papers because I bought two large packages when I returned to Japan ten days ago. But I asked a cashier anyway if there was a toilet paper shortage.

“No,” she said. “I don’t know. People already bought them all.”

“Oh, then are you going to have more this afternoon?”

“Don’t know,” she said.

“Do you have it tomorrow morning?”

“We can’t tell you,” she said without looking at me. “Products come in when they come in. That’s out of our control.”

She seemed irritated. People are usually very polite. Not today.

I should have known this, but my neighbor told me that ever since the earthquake hit on March 11, the toilet papers disappeared from the markets. I wonder where did they go? One of my neighbor said he saw about one hundred people lined up in front of that local market the day after the big earthquake happened. He said he didn’t need much, so he didn’t buy any. I guess he returned home with some other products.

Some people are insecure. But more than that. Most people are affected by others’ behavior. They don’t think on their own, but follow the other people. This is a problem. This problematic behavior happened during the oil shock about 40 years ago. People went nuts and bought all the toilet papers available. I guess people pretend with all their power to appear normal, but they are not as calm as I think. One female neighbor said she called Tokyo Denryoku to complain. She said we belong to Group 5 of their conservation program, and her son’s area is also Group 5, but he gets no outage. The Tokyo Denryoku operator replied that her son lives in the no-outage area. She said the substation is different.

I know the area her son lives. I told her that the area was a commercial area where more businesses were concentrated such as clinics, restaurants,, a bike shop, a mortuary, and so on . Our area is a residential area.

About a week ago, the carpenters started to build a house. They are working non-stop since then. That means they have been working through many earthquakes without a day rest. I hear energetic banging noises daily.

At four pm today, chief cabinet secretary Edano reported some good result from the seawater applied on the No. 3 reactor. He stressed that the government continued their utmost effort in reducing harm to people. He also reported on the health hazard of the Milk in Fukushima and the spinach in Ibaragi. He said the finding is based on consuming regularly for entire year, and on that condition, the amount of radiation on the milk is equal to one CT scan, and on the spinach, it is one fifth of one CT scan.

Well, I don’t think Japanese would eat any produce coming from the northeast now. But, it’s good to know all the information in detail. Ignorance makes us act funny.

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