Thursday, April 30, 2009

The scum of the earth comes a calling...

Generally, if you run into me for whatever reason and need to talk to me, I might not be the friendliest person you've ever met, but I'll treat you respectfully enough. Even if I'm called up by some aggressive telemarketing person I will be polite enough up to a point and probably at little bit more patient than most people even.

However, there is one type of people here in Japan that this does not apply to and I think you all know who I'm talking about here; the NHK representative. Since I moved last time to my current crib two years ago I have been spared any visits by these pesky people, but earlier this week one of them had located me and called on my door.

As my own general philosophy being located here in Japan, being a guest in the country I do try to do things correctly and the $10 a month that NHK collects is hardly a big deal even though the total time I spend watching NHK/month can probably be counted in minutes and usually consists of the rare newscast or other, but in principle I can accept that I should pay my tv license. But there is just something about these reps that come around that really really rubs me the wrong way.

They have a special aura about them that just brings out the worst in me, they look a bit like down and out salarymen with particularly dumpy looking polyester suits, think cross between a homeless person and a normal salaryman and you get the general picture. They usually seem to understand that they are considered to be human garbage by most people they come calling on and when they find out that they are dealing with a foreigner they usually get even more meek and apologetic.

I do pay, but I tend to be a bit of an asshole about it, clearly showing how annoyed I am by the whole deal and how busy I am to be dealing with things like this. The previous rep annoyed me to the degree that I refused to set up a bank transfer to have it done automatically, I kept paying in cash just so he had to come back to my place every two months and go through the whole proceedure with me, the times I didn't deliberately go into hiding. It was painful for me, but I did it because I knew it would be even more painful to him.

Once, he came in the middle of a typhoon and was, as always pretty stressed with the whole situation but managed to quite quickly get the money and get on his way out. Unfortunately he was also in such a hurry that he forgot his umbrella and didn't seem to dare call the doorbell again to pick it up. At that point I felt a brief sting of pity for the man, but it passed.

The guy who came around this time I didn't feel the same strong dislike for, just annoyance and pity, and decided to just get over with it and have the transfers done on my visa card from now on. But apparently he got very nervous in my presence and managed to fumble and mess up the process several time which made my annoyance even greater and his nervousness worse making the process take a fair bit longer than it should've otherwise. Again, it was painful for me, but even more painful for him, somehow making it worth it.

Rationally, I know that these people are just trying to do their job and I can't blame them for that, but for some reason they just rub me the wrong way. I guess it's the same with a hardened professional criminal who doesn't like cops out of principle.


Chris said...

My Name is Chris,

**Hey Chris**

I'm an asshole.

**everybody claps..couple a reassuring taps on the shoulder**

Mr. Salaryman said...

I'm proud of you Chris, you took a big step coming here to say these things out loud.

My only question is? What's your problem?!

sixmats said...

There are many things I don't understand about Japan, and why NHK doesn't get money from the government [directly] is one of them.

shufuinjapan said...

I also had a bad experience with a really horrible one at my old apartment, sticking his foot in the door and demanding money, wanting me to sign up to have it deducted from bank account etc and he didn't even care that it wasn't technically even my apartment...I also think NHK should just get the money from government-so much for a user pays society. I don't even watch NHK.

jlpt2kyu said...

In the UK everyone used to just not pay the licence fee, because it was so easy not to.

But now, they scare you into paying by using automated letters in red ink.

They don't bother to send a human to visit (which make sense because then a huge % of the fee would be going to the semi-homeless salarymans salary), but if you don't pay then you get fined automatically, a bit like a car parking ticket.

Blatantly everyone has a TV, therefore using thi kind of 'opt-out' system instead of 'opt-in' makes much more sense.

Yours Seriously,
Bobby Braithwaite

hanchan said...

i got my first nhk guy in 4 years last month. i flat out told him we refused to pay because we don`t watch nhk, then rang my (japanese) boyfriend and had him tell him the same thing. he came back, the boyfriend again told him to bugger off...
if he was nice, then i would have been polite. but this guy was, kimochi-warui posterboy... like a snake or something... *shudder*

Mr. Salaryman said...

Yeah, I see that you are all with me. The NHK people must be among the most hated people in Japan, I doubt that they tell other people what they do first thing, they probably lie and instead say that they are working in a somewhat more honorable profession such as gay-porn, hangman or such.

Hanchan must've met my previous guy...

Jeffrey said...

Wow! They've actually gotten more aggressive. When I last lived in greater Tokyo, they just slunk away when I answered the door and pretended to not understand what they were asking.

Colonel Panic said...

NHK is public television, like PBS in the US. PBS has annoying fundraising on air, NHK has to go door to door.

The system was set up back in the day (think back to the 1950's when TV's were a luxury item) and was designed to be fair - only people with a TV had to pay the fee.

The original intention was to be as fair as possible - only the people who could enjoy the shows would have to pay for them. (Although now, TV ownership may also start to decrease as people are turning to the web for video...)

Also, having the government fund NHK directly is not a good plan.
Imagine if PBS and NPR were entirely dependent on a US government funding committee. How would that affect their funding? And also, how would that affect their content and news coverage?

So, you don't like people coming to your door? Me neither.

Still, no reason to be a dick about it. These people deserve your pity, not your anger.
The folks that are doing this kind of work aren't getting rich at it, and they aren't paid a salary by NHK to collect the money.

They get a small amount of the license fees that they collect, and at least they are trying to stay employed. Far from "human garbage".
I reckon they are like the Big Issue sellers, only mobile. Give them a break.

If you really don't want to pay, then just tell them you don't have a TV.

Bottom line is, I rarely watch NHK, but they do make some decent shows and I support what they are trying to do.

Look at it this way:

I don't have kids, but I still pay taxes to build schools and pay for teachers. However, I benefit from this because overall, it leads to a better society in which to live.

Don't hate on the NHK people.

Kindest regards,

Colonel Panic

ps If you want to hate on people, come walk to work with me, through the gauntlet of Nigerians who block my path and follow me every day in Shinjuku and won't take "no, I am on my way to work" for an answer. Same frickin' guys every GD day. Any idea where I can buy a taser?

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