Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

A Routine Thief hr593

I’m particular about almost anything. That’s why my daily routine is inevitably quite precise, especially for details in it. My routine includes taking a bath at the communal spa and exercising at the communal gym both located inside my apartment complex for the residents. One night, I found an unfamiliar woman in the Jacuzzi of the spa. This Jacuzzi has eight spots to sit inside and I have my particular spot I usually sit in. The spot isn’t popular, as other residents prefer different ones. But this woman was sitting right in my spot, which made me move to the other. The spa has a sauna that stops being operated early in the evening. I take it after its operating hour in the late evening as a low-temperature sauna since heat remains. No residents use it that way and I can monopolize it. One night, I found the same woman in the sauna, using it as a low-temperature sauna like I do. My days of a sauna monopoly are over. I’ve seen her more and more and it seemed she is a new resident in this apartment complex. I bring a big hook to the spa and put it on the wall of the shower booth to hang my bag of amenities from it. No other residents do something like that as they put their amenities on the booth floor directly. And one night, I noticed that new woman began to use a big hook on the wall of her booth. Now I was convinced it was no coincidence. She apparently imitates me. There are four tubs in total in the spa with different water temperatures and different tub sizes. I take every one of them. Other residents don’t take all, just taking a couple according to their liking. One night, the mimic woman began to take all tubs like I do. I exercise inside the hot tub while I’m submerged in the bath water, which no other residents do. And one night, the mimic woman even started exercising in the hot tub just as I always do. I sometimes have a chat with other residents when we share the locker room. And as she has become familiar to them, she also began to have a chat with them intimately and impudently while I still talk to them modestly. Before taking a bath, I exercise at the gym next to the spa, which is also one of my daily routines. The other night, I went in the gym as usual and, look, who was there, the mimic woman! She has started exercising at the gym and then begun to bring her husband there. They had used different machines beside me for several days, but her husband began to use the exercise bike I regularly use. Above all, she imitates my own timetable so that I see her every day, everywhere, doing exactly what I do. My spa and gym time was completely copied by her. Usually, it’s nice to find a person who has a lot in common with me. I would like that person and sometimes build a friendly relationship. In that respect, I should be pleased that I’ve got a new neighbor resident whose liking is the same as mine and with whom I have so much in common. The strange thing is, it’s not the case this time at all. This particular woman really annoys me for some reason. While I realize it sounds totally irrational, I dislike her so much. Every bit of what she’s doing irritates me and disgusts me. Her any behavior, the way of her talking, and even the tone of her voice get on my nerves. As I was curious what makes me loathe her, I studied her closely. She’s thin, pretty, and a showboat. She always has to be the center of attention. I’m jealous of her looks – that’s a given. And I’m indignant because she grabbed my routine that I took years to establish. But except for that, nothing is wrong with her. She’s just too much like me. I may be looking at myself through her. Now I see how I look to others. Does it mean I hate myself? Do others look at me as a loathsome person like her? I feel like they do. I can’t stand to look at my lousy behavior through her any more. Not to see her do my things, I had no choice but to change and reconstruct my routine schedule entirely…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.552

After I got my boarding ticket at the check-in counter in LAX, I was headed for the security gate. As a typical, old-fashioned Japanese, I strictly separate the floor on which I step with my shoes off from the one with my shoes on. Without my shoes, I wouldn’t let my feet touch the outside or public floor where people walk with their shoes on. The security gate where I need to take off my shoes on the dirty public floor is a torture for me. My custom there is putting additional socks as covers over the ones I’m wearing, and take them off when my feet return into my shoes. By that way, my socks stay clean without touching the dirty surface directly, which means my home floor also stays clean when I come home and take off my shoes at the entrance. Because of my peculiar custom, my preparation in the line for the security check is quite hectic. I’m pulling a new pair of socks out of my bag, taking off my shoes and my jacket, putting on the socks over my socks, taking off a pin and a wristwatch, putting them in the basket along with a smartphone. The security machine at LAX was state-of-the-art that I had never been through before and had seen only in a news show on TV. When I go through the usual security gate, a beep often goes off for some reason. I wondered how many beeps would go off when I was completely scanned with this high-tech machine. I went in the machine with spread arms and legs tensely. Except that a security worker told me to turn my pendants around to my back, I got through without beeping. I was relieved and taking my stuff from the basket when I noticed my partner had forgotten his pen and his money clip in the basket next to mine. I scrambled his stuff and put back on my jacket and shoes at the bench. Then, the scare hit me. My wristwatch was gone! My favorite, dear watch that I had put onto my jacket was missing. I remembered a man was looking around restlessly beside the pick-up lane. Did he take it? I also remembered a young woman was looking into several baskets behind me. Was it her? Or, one of the workers who scanned the belongings took it while scanning? All at once, everyone around me looked like a thief and I was surrounded by evil people. I had forgotten that this was Los Angeles. Someone must have stolen it. The watch was not expensive, but it was a rare Mickey Mouse one I found at an online auction site and I was attached to it. This trip had been going so well without mishap, and it was so close to be ended successfully. I was almost there. I was shocked that something bad happened in the end and ruined the whole trip. To me, what was gone was not just my watch but my good impression for people here and this trip altogether. I was utterly disappointed at this sad ending for the trip. I told my partner that the inevitable finally happened and my watch was stolen. He suggested I should report it somewhere. I had already given up but went back to the gate reluctantly to make a useless attempt. In a jam of people around the gate, I managed to talk to a security worker. Although I had expected an indifferent response, he listened to me intently and showed sympathy for me. He kindly figured out what to do and told me to go to the nearby counter. A person at the counter showed me the lost-and-found items. There was even a bunch of keys among them, but not my watch. She went away to the distant shelves while I was standing dazed and faint with a shock and despair. A different worker walked past beside me carrying a basket. I casually glanced at it and couldn’t believe my own eyes. Sitting on the bottom of the basket was none other than my watch! I shouted, “That’s mine! That’s mine!” I was jumping, with my arms waving high above me like a banzai-style. The workers gave a wry smile and brought the basket to me. I uttered thank-you for a million times. It wasn’t stolen but merely my fault. It turned out that I had paid attention to my partner’s left stuff too much to double-check mine. The watch had slipped from onto my jacket to the corner of the basket and been left there. The basket then quickly had been returned to the entrance of the gate with my watch in it, but no one took it. I was ashamed of myself. I regarded everybody as a thief, even the security workers who were very compassionate. I was surrounded by good people and the most evil person at the security gate was me at that time…

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