So I’m heading to work early one morning when I happen to glance down and see this little Japanese turtle right in the middle of the road, totally random. I mean, okay, I couldn’t really tell if he was a Japanese turtle or a gaijin turtle, but anyway he had the shell and the stubby reptile legs and all, so I felt pretty good about the turtle part. And he was escaping from this neighborhood reservoir, full of green water and surrounded by tall chain link fence. How a turtle got over a seven foot-high chain link fence, I’ll never know, but apparently he was some kind of Rambo super turtle or something. You never can tell in this country. Anyway, so here I am half-running in my suit, trying to get to the station because I’m late as usual, without breaking too much of a sweat, and suddenly there’s this little guy struggling to get across the road. Why, I have no idea. I guess to get to the other side, like a reaaally slow chicken. But I kept on going, because I had a train to catch, and anyway there were about a million other people in suits rushing by who could deal with the situation.
And then it occurred to me. Japanese turtle or not, nobody’s going to help. Like, the entire nation is going to pass by, look at him, and not do a damn thing. And then he’ll be crushed by a car or that truck that drives around picking up discarded TVs and bicycles. I mean, it’s a busy road. Jeez, why does it always come down to the white guy having to do everything? But okay, yeah, it does, so I went back.
Have you ever seen a Japanese superhero? No, right? Unless you’re really into anime or something, but otherwise the answer’s likely No. The whole world knows Superman, but who’s Japan got? Godzilla? He’s like a big, walking turtle. Okay, that’s Gamera. Whatever. Anyway my point is that everything in Japan’s so orderly that the demand for superheroes is really low. And if Superman ever did visit Japan, he’d just be stuck doing all this boring, petty stuff like saying, Don’t throw your cigarette butts down the drain! or separating the recycling into glass, cans, and plastic, only really fast. He’d probably be Super-annoyed man, actually. Not that I’m trying to say I’m like Superman or anything. I’m just some dude hustling to work so I can get the whole teaching English thing out of the way so I can come back home and drink a proper beer. That’s it. On the other hand, I guess from the turtle’s perspective, well okay, maybe I am. I mean, I’m a lot taller than he is, for starters. By night, an English teacher, and by day, turtle Superman. That’s gonna look good on a resume. Oh, life’s turning out just dandy.
So I picked him up. You know how some people collect snakes or have an ant farm or like to hug sheep? Yeah well, that ain’t Ken Seeroi. I was like, Eeeew, how do I hold this gross thing? He was all moving and alive and stuff, but thankfully he pulled his scary little legs and head back into his shell, so that helped. I could kind of imagine he was just like a hubcap or something. But then he started peeing. So now a million Japanese people are rushing by and here’s this white guy in a suit standing in the middle of the road holding a whizzing turtle and pretending he’s a hubcap. It’s a good thing I wore blue, and not my grey pinstripe. Really hides the turtle pee much better.
Mr. Turtle Gets the Ride of his Life
So I carried him back to the reservoir and chucked him over. I was like, Be free, little turtle, fly! Only I kind of threw him too far, and for a moment I was afraid he’d sail entirely over the reservoir and splat onto the road on the other side, which would be pretty ironic. I’ve really got a hell of an arm, I must say. But eventually he came back down and hit the water in a massive belly flop. There was a great splash, and slowly he disappeared below the surface. Back to his watery home. I don’t care if you’ve got a shell or not though, that’s gotta sting a bit.
Then I slotted back into the line of people rushing to the station, and washed my hands of the whole matter. Meaning that I stopped at the restroom and rinsed off the turtle slime, then got onto the train and pulled out my smartphone like everybody else. Faceless and anonymous Clark Kent blending in with the masses, texting his boss that he’s late, patiently waiting for the next time when he’s gonna save humanity. Or a frog or an earthworm or something. Life in Japan sure is busy.