When Kevin and I have the chance to go back to the States, I often end up over-analyzing and making comparisons of every-day culture and life in the U.S. to life and culture in Japan.
Case in point: On our recent trip to Hawaii, we went to a fine-dining establishment at our hotel to have dinner. To be honest, this restaurant (I'm not going to divulge the name of this restaurant because the name of the restaurant isn't the point)wasn't a 5 star restaurant. But....still it was supposed to be a somewhat upscale restaurant as there were linen tablecloths and napkins at every table. The restaurant was crowded with guests, so I was greatly surprised when our waiter came to take our order. Let me just preface this by saying that I've worked in the restaurant industry myself. I know how important hand-washing is....so you can imagine my utter surprise (& disgust really) when I saw the hands and fingers of our waiter. His hands weren't covered with dirt or anything...but what I DID see amazed me....As our waiter took our order and brought a basket of bread to our table...I noticed that he had black dirt embedded under his fingernails....Most people probably wouldn't notice this small little detail, but I did. And all I could think of was how this waiter could not have not known his hands and fingernails were dirty. Did he not wash his hands? Did he not care that he worked at an upscale restaurant that prides itself on its reputation?
In Japan, presentation and appearance is key. You can walk into a fast-food restaurant and easily see how clean and orderly everything is...so why isn't this kind of behavior and focus on appearances present in the U.S? It's possible our waiter worked another job as an auto mechanic or something, but still....hand-washing is not only sanitary, it's important for appearances.
Kevin and I did end up ordering from the menu, but each time the waiter came to our table, all I could do was stare at his hands.
Now that I'm living in Japan, sometimes I can't help but make comparisons like this. If outward appearances and presentation are so imporant in Japanese culture, why can't it be important in American culture? Hmmmm?
If you have thoughts or comments on this subject, please share!
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