onsdag, september 27, 2006

Yoshida and Tanaka

Written on departing Yokohama for Shibuya, September 23:

Each day I play a game with Yoshida and Tanaka. I clean my hotel room in Yokohama, but I put a few things slightly out of alignment. Yoshida and Tanaka, the maids who re-clean my room, correct each one of these imperfections and find ways to establish even greater order among things I’d believed we’d already settled upon.

Unable to choose what clothes to wear on the first day, I left some rejected schemes on the spare bed. I returned to find these items folded neatly on the edge of the bed.

I’d also left a bit of coin stacked and the rest haphazard on the cover of a book. I returned to find all my books and coins neatly stacked on the sill behind the gauzy curtain. Each book was centered within the frame of the larger book beneath, the coins were centered to the side.

On the nightstand, a little card had been signed YOSHIDA. The game was afoot.

After breakfast the next morning, I hurried back to my room to clean before the first lectures in the conference hall. I folded unused clothes and closed all but one drawer flush against dresser. I left that drawer peeking out just a touch. I started a folded dirty-clothes pile in the luggage closet. I restacked my coins and books. I wiped up the water drops around the sink, draped the rag to the side so the room would look appropriately lived in but orderly. I arranged some toiletries in something of a square.

When I returned that evening, the toiletries had been rearranged in a close line, as if marshaled for duty. Some business cards I’d neglected on the desk had been stacked and centered in a little open zone at the front of the desk between my computer and the desk edge. The drawers were flush. The books were perfect.


This continued with me trying new arrangements to trick them each morning. I’d move the pens 5 degrees out of alignment on the memo pads by the phones. No dice. Yoshida caught it. Did she pack a protractor in her supplies carrier?

Lollie suggested I leave one shirt unfolded and another folded but not with skill on the bed to see what would happen.

We knew. So did Tanaka. She refolded them. Perfectly.

A crooked wastebasket, two receipts on the desk, the position of my shampoo in the shower: Yoshida and Tanaka had an orderly answer for everything and new answers for the things I hadn’t touched.

It got so that I did things like wipe out and dry the soap holder—I even DRIED THE SOAP!!—just to see if I could detect whether they let one inch of the room go unchecked.

No deal, cK. Y & T were on a mission, and they succeeded.
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