Japanese Word-of-the-Day: Yonige (夜逃げ)–skipping town; literally running away at night.
I was really trying to sleep past three am last night, and I was almost there. That is until sometime around 2:55 when I started dreaming about explosions.
Time to wake up.
It turned out I wasn’t actually in a war zone. Instead, someone was outside my window opening and shutting their car doors over and over again. I might have fallen back asleep except there was something about the *way* these mysterious people were opening and shutting their car doors over and over again. There seemed to be an urgency about it.
Time to grab my glasses, sit up in bed, and watch the show.
First off, you have to know that my neighborhood is mostly a bunch of nondescript houses all lined up smack-dab next to each other. We’re all very close whether we want to be or not. There is also a small, three-story apartment building just across the way from my bedroom window. It’s there, kinda out of nowhere. Plop. Very cheap rooms. Very small rooms. Very shady characters living there.
(Side note: Once I saw a guy get into his car one morning, and he was still sitting there when I got home about six hours later. Seems he couldn’t move for some reason. I suppose that doesn’t mean he’s a shady character. Just, who wouldn’t shout or make a phone call or honk their horn to get a little help? He wasn’t passed out or anything. Just sat there. Dude had patience. …Or was he shady?)
Back to the story.
So what I saw outside my window at three am on January first was a big white van parked under the streetlight in front of that apartment building. All around it a man and woman ran about like loons, opening doors, throwing boxes in, slamming doors, re-opening doors, tossing in more boxes, and then re-slamming doors. After doing this for fifteen-twenty minutes and filling up the van, they both hopped in and sped away.
My first thought was: Gee! This must be a real, live, bonafide yonige! Never seen one of these before!
The economy sucks, jobs are lost or money is gambled, maybe a family can’t budget for crap or makes bad buying choices. I don’t know, but the easiest way to borrow money in Japan is something called sara-kin. Never a good idea. Those guys will come after you. And I *do* know people who have been bullied and threatened by them when they can’t pay back. It’s a whole new kind of hell, I’m told.
So I’m guessing that’s what this was, a couple skipping town. Sad, actually. But I was happy to see there were no kids involved. That would make it really, really, really sad.
The whole thing doesn’t say much about their intelligence though. Slamming doors at three am when you’re trying to do something clandestine, I don’t know. Because if I was woken up from a deep sleep across the way, and I could see the van and the people under the streetlight rather clearly, I can’t imagine how many eyes all the other windows on the block had.
I don’t know the circumstances, so I can’t root for the couple or not. But the more I think about it the more I kinda want to root for them. I imagine them holed up in that tiny room, sharing a single futon, one pillow, lamenting about debt collectors and wishing for a brighter future. Then one of them has this brilliant idea: Let’s skip town! Let’s leave this all behind! Let’s start anew! We can fall in love all over again in a brand new place. And let’s do it on January 1st. What a great way to start the year! It’s all rather romantic.
Or they could have been packing and heading out early for a skiing trip up north.