Foreign Food, Foreign Habits

I was working for a Japanese manufacturing company here in the U.S. quite a few years ago. One of their methods of education involved sending groups of mid-management people over to Japan for several weeks visits to learn from exposure. I ended up going over in a group that included people that, I think, were being passed over for their trips in the hopes that they would quit. Unfortunately, by that time, we hadn't. There was about eight of us and, to put it mildly, we had a good time.

The choices of food that were available to us were unusual, to say the least. We were offered many kinds of fish and other aquatic creatures in various stages of being cooked. We did have available to us a McDonalds that required a thirty minute walk. Quite often, it was worth the walk. The restaurant's management was used to dealing with foreigners such as us. In an effort to make ordering food less of a matter of chance they placed a large copy of the menu on the counter so we could just point and indicate quantities with our fingers. It worked pretty well. But we were being treated to visits to the homes of employees for meals so we did give our bellies a pretty complete exposure to new fuel.

Hardly anyone works close to where they live, it seems. We would have to take a bus to the different plants we would be going to. These would be trips of up to an hour in the wee hours of the morning. The buses would be filled with Japanese workers who would be fast asleep in their chairs. We would usually grab the seats in the back of the bus so that we could sit together. Then we could sit and talk while everyone else slept. There was one man in our group who was every bit as accomplished as I was in the art of passing gas. He was one of that small group that is Loud and Deadly. This one morning as we were driven to work he brought the effects of the previous night's Octopus or whatever out. This one sounded like a Mack truck with glasspack mufflers downshifting as it began the trip down a steep hill. We all laughed with envy, both at the sound and the fact that he probably felt much better. As our laughter begin to subside we began to become aware of the fact that a monster had been released. I was sitting about three rows in front of him. The two guys in the row behind me began to cough with watery eyes and I, of course, thought they were exaggerating. Then it hit me. Powerful.

Physics tells us that a forward moving vehicle should not allow something heavy like this to go anywhere but back. I had tested this fact myself many years before by sneezing in the back seat of a car that was traveling about 100 miles an hour on the Ohio Turnpike. My science class had taught me that a sneeze traveled at just over 100 MPH and my test proved it. Those of us in the back seat were able to watch this cloud of mucus moving at about five miles an hour. We watched in slow motion as the cloud moved forward and hit the back of the driver's head.

But this fart, something that has no inertia, was able to move at will. It defied the motion of the bus and crawled forward. I can, to this day, still remember the sight of the Japanese man who sat two rows in front of me. He was fast asleep, then he started to move his head. Just back and forth at first, then he shook it with more urgency. Then he jumped up in his seat and threw open the window next to him. The creature that was released that day worked it's way forward two more rows, causing occupants to wake up and throw their windows open too. I have nothing but admiration for that accomplishment.