Saturday, July 16, 2011

Knowing where one's towel is

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is completely clear on the subject of towels:

"...Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it,
slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows
where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

As opposed to a random western foreigner with sticky, butter covered fingers who just looks plain incompetent. In truth, I did know exactly where my small towel was... it just wasn't in my pocket. Currently, that was particularly unfortunate.

Walking through Sapporo's Odori Park on a Sunday afternoon, I had stopped at a stall to buy a corn on the cob. I sat eating it while I watched a group of teenagers rock out to a jpop dance routine they seem to have prepared especially for the group of girls perched watching them on the lip of a fountain. As I finished and dropped my devoured cob into a trash can, I looked down at my hands. No napkin had been provided with my purchase because Japanese people tend to carry small square flannels (wash cloths) with them for just such occasions. These towel-like accessories were thicker than a normal handkerchief and normally brightly decorated. I had two .... but one was in my desk at work and the other was floating around my bedroom. Sighing, I rubbed my fingers together and turned away.

"Ah...?" The inquiry came from a Japanese lady who had been sitting close by and had bought her own corn shortly after me. She was now holding out a disposable wet wipe.

I stammered out my thanks in Japanese as I accepted it, ducking in the customary bow. "Arigatou gozaimasu!"

She smiled and stood up, "Bye," she said as she walked away.

".... Bye."

Perhaps if I bought another 20 cloths and shoved them into all my pockets, I'd be good for the streets.


  1. Game Show ChaserJuly 16, 2011 at 7:25 AM

    The towels are a great idea. I've taken to carrying special little blue cloths to wipe my eyeglasses, which I use often and have become a necessity. I've got one in my multi-pocketed jacket, one in my bookbag (rucksack, I suppose!), one in my office, and a couple at home.

    A general purpose towel would be good though because several British places like Greggs don't automatically give me napkins unless I ask, which I often don't think to do.

  2. It's good for the environment too. I feel quite guilty when I reach for a napkin because I've forgotten my hand cloth thingo.