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By bingocards
November 6, 2008

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light. How are these posts selected? Click here to find out and nominate a post yourself!

So this week I got contacted by the Democratic Party. And this week (morning, actually) I got contacted by the Democratic Party. I thought you guys would be mildly amused.

Last Saturday I was sitting at home cleaning like a madman for my Halloween Party. Then there was a knock on the door. Given that it was 8 hours too early for guests I figured "Oh, a solicitor" and resolved to ignore it, but the solicitor probably heard me futzing about in the kitchen (directly adjacent to the door) and was persistent. He said, through the door, "Could I just have a moment of your time? I'm with the Democrats and the most important election of your lifetime is coming up fast."

My first thought was "I had read that Obama's canvassing teams were pretty thorough but getting a Japanese speaker out to a small town in central Japan is off the charts." Then I remembered, oh yeah, he probably means he's from the Minshutou -- the Democratic Party (of Japan).

So I thought, eh, this should be a very quick discussion. I opened the door and, of course, the canvasser looked quite surprised.

Democrat: "Err, umm, hmm... Ahh, that is, well... This is awkward, isn't it. Umm... are you... planning on supporting the Democrats this time?"

Bingocards: "Sorry, I'm afraid I'm not a Japanese citizen, but I'm sure whomever you guys pick will continue our countries' long, friendly relationship. Have a nice..."

Democrat: "Oh GOOD you speak Japanese!"

Bingocards: "I just fake it really well. If you'll excuse me, I have a pumpkin to..."

Democrat: "So if you COULD vote would you vote for us?"

Bingocards: "While that is an interesting question, as an American citizen, I feel it is more appropriate to leave the politics of Japan to its people and their wishes as expressed through their elected representatives. Now if you'll excuse me..."

Democrat: "But if you were a citizen?"

Bingocards: "'No comment'". [n.b. In Japanese, this is, literally, "no komento". Japanese politicians picked it up from American ones.]

Democrat: "You know we Democrats are the party at the forefront of increasing foreigners' rights in Japan."

Bingocards: "I am indebted to the Japanese people for their support of human rights worldwide and at home, and am happy to hear they remain enthusiastic about it."

Democrat: "So you could potentially be a citizen someday, you know. And could you vote for us then?"

Bingocards: "... Are you SURE you're not from ACORN?"

Democrat: "What's ACORN?"

Bingocards: "Sorry, American humor. My apologies, but I have a pumpkin pie which is about to burn."

Democrat: "But..."

Bingocards: "Pie before politics! Good day!"


And the second incident.

A bit of background: I grew up in Chicago, and my family still lives there. For my first 3 years here I always called them, but there are quite a number of them and their schedules vary so getting in touch with them was difficult, so this year I tried to do something different. I bought myself a Chicago number (312 area code) from an online service, and it forwards all calls made to it to my house in Japan.

The only people who know about it are my family, and they know that they need to call between 9 AM and 11 AM Chicago time to reach me. So I didn't bother turning on the "turn off forwarding during inconvenient hours" features because I thought, hey, in the case of emergency, I definitely want to hear from them at any hour day or night.

Which explains my panicked state of mind when the phone rang at 4:30 AM in the morning. (Does this sound like a campaign ad? Don't worry, I promise, no politics.)

Bingocards: "Hello is everything alright!"

Democrat: "Congratulations and thanks for your support!"

Bingocards: *dazed stupor from it being 4:30 AM*

Democrat: "I'm sure you've heard the news already but Obama won and we couldn't have done it without you!"

Bingocards: "Excuse me, I'm a little drowsy. Back up a step?"

Democrat: "Oh, this is [... I think he said he was from the campaign or working on their behalf or something, don't hold me to too much detail at 4:30 AM] and we're calling our supporters to say thanks."

Bingocards: "I think you have the wrong number. Its like 4:30 AM here, if you'll excuse me..."

Democrat: "Oh, terribly sorry about that. I am calling 312-RIGHT-NUMBER. Say, its not 4:30 in Chicago... or if it is, I sure should be sleeping, eh?"

Bingocards: "Ahh. See, you're calling a number which is assigned to a telephone forwarding service. I'm guessing your supporter leased the number earlier and stopped paying for it. I lease it now."

Democrat: "Oh. Sorry about that."

Bingocards: "No problem. Can you delete the number from the record for your supporter?"

Democrat: "He doesn't live with you?"

Bingocards: "Not unless he recently moved to central Japan and is very cleverly hiding himself in a room the size of your walk-in closet."

Democrat: "Japan huh?!"

Bingocards: "Where it is 4:30 in the morning."

Democrat: "Oh. Well, congratulations and say while this has been a big victory the work is not yet..."



It only occurred to me after I hung up that the last line was Japanese. Sounds unfortunate in English (look at first four letters and imagine them at a volume level approaching "strangled cry of frustration") but it is actually polite.

Memo to any American candidate wanting my vote or money in 2012: I'm not quite petty enough to change my vote over you waking me up on a work day. However, I'm certainly petty enough to sign you up for a mailing list in return. It will be a wonderful opportunity for you to discuss international affairs with my (local) Democrats. I hope your Japanese is better at 4:30 AM than mine is.