Is your business busy, but you’re not seeing the profits you’d expect? It may be that you appear busy, but it’s really an illusion due to inefficiency.
Over the years I’ve reviewed business workflows and made recommendations from small to large. The majority of business owners are convinced that there’s room for improvement and they’re right. Often either they or their management team don’t want to put the effort into anything new or different than their current ways of accomplishing tasks.
I know a restaurant consultant that has complained of similar frustrations. Restaurants are one of the most poorly run businesses I’ve seen and with the most unhappy employees. In chain establishments the home office usually does a good job of laying out training and the business model on paper. Employees new to the industry are enthusiastic and like what they see during training videos, but once they begin the actual work they discover that none of these methods are followed and fellow employees complain constantly, don’t care, and can’t wait to leave there the minute they find another job.
I recently had an opportunity to see inside this industry. I’m one that likes to experience myself and not rely on hearsay. I couldn’t have been more surprised if I were the Coyote and the Road Runner just dropped a giant anvil on me. The busier it got with customers, the more employees and management rushed around frantically. The more customers that poured in during lunch and dinner the practices and procedures covered in the training videos and materials went right out the window. This included many health violations.
The other side of why this happens is not enough staff. There were several employees that were optimistic and the true team player encouraging other employees. But there were only a handful of these. With not enough staff and everyone expected to do any job required in the place jobs weren’t completed as they should. New employees were tasked with duties they’d never performed. With this came many health violations due to lack of knowledge. Employees were tasked with picking up prepared foods with their bare hands with no idea that gloves were required. The same went for clean dishes. “Hey, Joe, go get us some clean bowls” sent Joe to pick up a stack and return with them bare-handed with part of his hand grasping the inside of the bowl.
This is a domino effect of course because the employees don’t like rushing around in a crazy frenzy and not having specific duties and therefore don’t stay long. Because of the high turnover more employees come in and no one stays long enough to really become a valuable part of the team.
Managers all have different styles and while this isn’t uncommon in any business, when it’s so drastically different that they may contribute to the frenzy or work against the ‘rules’ of the company and make it worse. District managers come in once in awhile, but may not see the real problems or career restaurant people just consider it part of the norm.
What’s the answer? Well, for one all employees should receive general safety training. New employees should stick with one duty and when they master that merge them into another duty. Ask employees what they like, dislike, and would like to see changed. Hire enough staff to do all the jobs. If you don’t have money for a dishwasher for example, asking everyone to pitch in and wash dishes won’t do anything but cause people to quit which costs you more money.
Those of you that know my training techniques understand already that I firmly believe in changing just one small thing and training in small increments. The same goes for any change. Whether you’re trying to change your restaurant business, lose weight, or declutter small steps are key.
Lately (since November) I’ve found myself looking back at where I was last year or even further. I suspect I will be doing this throughout the year. I suspect I’m still in a state of disbelief that in November of 2015 I was sent to Okinawa, Japan to work and lived there until the end of August 2016.
I wish I’d returned to blogging when I arrived as it would’ve been an interesting read and reflection on what I learned and experienced. Can’t change the past as I’m all too aware.
I came to really embrace Okinawa, but it was not as appreciated as it might have been because I left home so suddenly and left so much undone. My decision to accept this position was influenced by the fact that I am in relatively good health and my parents (who live apart) are also physically well off enough not to require care. I had someone to stay in my house and take care of pets and day-to-day activities. The money was too good to pass up and having visited my son in China made me realize that other countries are no big deal to visit or reside.
What I didn’t know when I left was that I underestimated just what a control freak I truly am. I knew I liked to be in control, but to not be able to focus and enjoy the new culture because of constantly trying to control what could not be controlled at home is the sign of an out of control maniac! Sometimes you just need to accept that things are getting handled even if it’s not the way you would handle them. That’s hard for me. Ask anyone that knows me and you’ll hear a resounding ‘Amen’.
I also underestimated just how much my family does rely on me. That’s also a relatively bad thing. Yes, I do anything for anyone and ignore my own needs far too often. It’s how I’m wired. I am learning to say ‘no’ and to try to not over commit. I have spoiled people too in what I can do whether it’s figure out technology to solve a problem or fix some problem they have or help them make a decision.
While I did have Skype and talked to people at home with the 13-14 hour time difference (I was ahead of them) between Okinawa and Virginia/Pennsylvania, the hours I spent with each family member on calls every week were exhausting and they always let me know what they really needed me to help them with at the time.
It was also a bit of a strain supporting two households and helping other family members, but I was appreciative that I could afford to do it. I admit I was jealous of two of the single people on my team there that gave up apartments and cars and put belongings in storage. They were both able to do a lot of travel and enjoy their stay much more than me. But if I were to blame it on finances it wouldn’t be entirely fair. I didn’t try hard enough to go explore. I could’ve done more.
I did take one trip over Memorial Day weekend to Hiroshima, Japan. In my usual way I packed too much into a short weekend, but I did have a good trip and am very pleased that I was able to visit the historic sites there. I would recommend it to everyone!
Since I’ve come home and perhaps about two months into time here I’ve found myself homesick for Okinawa. That’s a complete shock to me. It’s not what I didn’t get to do, but silly little products that I became accustomed to from the 100 Yen store (equivalent to our Dollar Tree). I also was completely comfortable with shopping at the local grocery store. I had certain products that I purchased and liked the small portions. The fresh salmon that was my staple, the rice I liked the most for it’s flavor and stickiness, the little glass bottles of herbs for 100Yen and even the scented, colored toilet paper. I miss my favorite restaurants and dishes at each and the warmth and friendliness of the Okinawans.
I’ve noticed that several things have changed both while I was there and since I’ve come home. One is that before I left I had become very lazy and depended on someone else to do everything for me. The problem is two-fold. First, the person is always there to serve me. That’s bad though some would be jealous. Second, I’ve always done everything for myself and now I had turned into a person that I didn’t know and didn’t like. Okinawa gave me my independence back. I shopped for myself, cleaned my apartment, and cooked my own meals. It was good for me to regain my independence as well as my confidence.
I started eating a lot differently. The portions are smaller both at restaurants and at the grocery store. I’ve always been one to use my own shopping bags when I shop and I was in the right place. In Okinawa most people do use their own bags in the local markets (my preference for shopping rather than on base), it’s also an economic move as those people that don’t have a bag have to pay for a plastic bag. What a great concept! Imagine what it would be like here in the U.S. if we charged people for their bags? We wouldn’t have landfills of plastic bags or see them blowing around the streets and countryside.
I was very fortunate that I was paired to work with someone local on the island. He taught me a lot and took me to many different places to eat and helped me try many dishes that I love and miss now. I would never have learned so much on my own. I owe my friend, Fernando, much!
I only bought fresh salmon in small packages and bought a mid-grade rice that in the U.S. we would call sushi rice. I ate fresh vegetables. I bought a local rice cooker that I brought home with me. I drank oolong tea and ate miso soup. I started drinking Naked Juice Blue Machine for breakfast or buying smoothies at the gym. I started putting chia seeds on or in everything. I was eating as clean as anyone could want to. I became a vegetarian except for my salmon. That was just the kick-start that my mind and body needed. I was thinking more clearly than I had in decades and my creativity returned.
When I was sitting in my apartment in Okinawa, there wasn’t much to do other than read, listen to music, or watch movies and t.v. online with my Kindle. I deliberately didn’t want a lot of belongings not just because of the expense, but when I left I would either have to ship home or get rid of and neither made good sense.
The last two months I was there when the work was complete and we were just in a holding pattern I began reading voraciously. I used to read a lot, but also hadn’t done that in so long I couldn’t remember.
In hindsight, it would’ve been ideal if I’d experienced the changes months earlier. Certainly can’t go back and change that now.
I began rejecting any fast foods easily and going out of my way to shop naturally. It was harder and more expensive. Gradually my partner kept bringing home cheaper foods and I returned to eating as too many Americans. I suffered brain fog and lost ambition, energy, and creativity. Before I knew it I had fallen back into almost where I was before I left. Luckily I have had a chance to realize this and am working at eating much closer to vegetarianism and my mental and physical state is returning to where I want it to be. Sure, I’ll have an occasional treat but it will be occasional.
One of the big differences is that in Okinawa I was limited in my ability to get around. Here in America you can just get in your car and wherever you go there are ads to entice you and you might stop just to get gas and have all sorts of temptations. I can see now what a difference there is and it makes me miss a lot of my life in Okinawa. I’m home sick for life there and almost wish I could just go there on weekends. There are foods I miss and the simpler, laid back life was wonderful.
Returning home was more difficult than I imagined. I found myself happy to be home conflicted with missing Okinawa. It was more than the overwhelming stuff and need to embrace minimalism. It was the food, people, customer service, and culture in general. I was also in culture shock. I didn’t realize some of the disrespect and hatefulness that’s been here all along. It took living there for it to stand out.
A couple of examples are men that don’t remove their hats when they enter a building. Seeing people in stores with ball caps or sitting in a restaurant wearing a ball cap is still driving me so insane that I want to go slap it off their heads! I’m sure some of that is because I worked on military bases and soldiers must remove their caps (covers there referred to) immediately before entering a building and then put them on immediately when they exit a building.
The rudeness of drivers has also really got me. Okinawa is slower paced. To the Okinawans driving is a privilege. It costs thousands of dollars I’m told to be able to get that privilege and that doesn’t include the expense of buying and insuring a car. The inspections are insane there and very expensive as well. I don’t have to tell you that even in a small city like Roanoke you have people who cut you off, don’t use turn signals, speed, and are just generally jerk drivers. That doesn’t even count the drivers who are driving without a license or insurance.
From time to time now I look at today and last year. What was the weather like in Okinawa? What was I doing? What did I try for the first time?
I realize that many things I believed in and or was passionate about over the years have faded. It’s not just a difference with who I became in Okinawa and who I was here, but a drifting away from who am. I am slowly moving back to ME.
I’ve long been a naturalist. I believe in natural cleaning, composting, gardening, eating clean foods, gardening, and living simply. The only thing about me that tends to create an element of eccentricity or some might consider conflict is that I was raised in a car club culture. Having old Jeeps and old cars and especially Studebakers, Mopars, and Corvairs are just part of who I am too. But I know now that I need one thing to enjoy and don’t have to have a mass of vehicles and parts. So even that’s on the chopping block. It’s back to cleaning out and listing on eBay.
I am returning to reading, but it’s hard. I’ve starting coloring (thank heavens for the invention of the adult coloring book) and plan to get my cleaning and craft room in shape again (it became a disaster while I as away) and get back to crafts and sewing that I enjoy.
I returned to only t.v. via antenna along with my Netflix and Hulu accounts. I’m spending more time listening to music and less time watching t.v. I’m also fairly busy with eBay sales in clearing out ‘stuff’ from my life.
Returning to consulting but expanding my offerings as well as eBay and Uber will allow me to stay independent. I don’t need to be wealthy in my bank account, but need to be happy. I work at my own pace and have freedom and variety.
Reflection is healthy as long as it doesn’t become regret. I hope you’ll reflect and find what’s slipped away for yourself.
I’ve seen a glimpse of life. Some would say I’ve had an interesting life. Finding your niche, your calling, and ultimately your true self is a lifelong battle.
Once I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was young to help animals. I was fortunate enough to have space and freedom growing up to have not just the German Shepherd that I was raised with, but dwarf rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, fish, guinea pigs, a small parrot and often found crawdads and salamanders in the creek where I lived. Once I hit high school I realized that science wasn’t my strength and changed plans.
I have worked in basic offices doing accounting and other duties. In 1992 I landed into the CAD field where I remained until 2010 when the industry changed and I could no longer find a job. Employers wanted degrees and certifications that I didn’t possess. It was time for a change.
I blocked out healthcare from my career possibilities because I seemed surrounded by it. My grandmother was an R.N. and practiced into retirement on-call. My grandfather was a pharmacist and also practiced into retirement on a fill-in basis. Through some experiences with my late husband, I had a renewed interest in healthcare. With my personality type I believed that working in a lab would be the best fit. I returned to school full-time to work toward a Health Science degree. Along the way it was suggested that phlebotomy certification could pay my way to finish. This was wrong as the pay is not there and employers only want to hire someone with experience.
I again fell into a position that took me to Okinawa, Japan. The work was boring most of the time with not enough challenge to keep me interested, but during the last month of sitting in my apartment I finally found myself. I had nothing to do but read and listen to music and I read about a book a day. I started blogging again. I started writing a book. I began following a number of authors that I respected greatly and surrounding myself with people who built me up. I also began exercising and working out at the base gym regularly and fell back into my routine of hardly being able to stay away from the gym. I was stronger mentally and physically. I found my true self. I had also been eating clean with local food.
Then I returned home. My hopes of continuing with the company that sent me to Okinawa were quickly dashed and I found myself laid off immediately. After being away from home for 10 months, I had a lot of work to sort out and clean up problems. I also was overwhelmed with clutter and started selling everything I could put my hands on.
All this distraction, gradually going back to bad-for-you American foods, have me lost again. I’m trying to find a starting point to find myself again. I shouldn’t have to leave home for this search! I’ve had it and can taste it. I want it back. I need it back to survive. It’s a long climb up a steep mountain. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it once I reach it.
Have you ever found your true self? I’d like to know your story.
This summer I read The 7-Day Startup by Dan Norris. I admit I was skeptical. It was a book recommended by the author of another book that I really enjoyed so it was worth my time to try it. What I found was that it made sense. I was completely surprised. You see, when I was in college in the stone ages I was taught that to start a business you needed research, a good business plan, and lots of prep to see if it even made sense to start the business you had in mind. If the market share wasn’t there, then it wouldn’t fly. Dan’s book was the opposite of this. It turned my degree in Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship on it’s head.
I shouldn’t have been surprised because I launched a business in one day. Back in 2001 my secure job as CAD Manager came to a sudden end when a new president took over the company I worked for the previous 10 years. It was his decision that he didn’t see a value in having a department to create drawings in AutoCAD for salesmen to present plans to their clients or full construction drawings to show the installation crews how to install the project and get permits or even as-built drawings to provide to clients. I was suddenly out of a job!
I was level-headed enough to not burn any bridges even though I was not in a good mood. I had just purchased a house a matter of weeks before and hadn’t even made my first mortgage payment. I did over to buy any of the equipment or software, but was denied. Still, I felt like something could change. It was a gut feeling and I listened to my gut in this instance.
The very next morning word got out to the rest of the company what happened. I received a phone call from the most successful salesman with the company. He asked if I would be willing to work on a contract basis. See, my gut was right! I agreed and set to work.
By the end of the day I had created a name for my business, CAD Fuel Design. I applied for a business license with the City. I obtained software from a colleague of mine through the software user group (networking pays off). By the end of the day I had a business and was ready to roll. Later I would add QuickBooks for invoicing (I typed invoices in Word initially), a laser printer, a large-scale plotter, and a better computer.
For the next 10 years I continued the drawings of fuel stations that I’d done for the previous 10 years and never skipped a beat. I followed the standards I’d created when I was tasked with starting their department from scratch. My clients grew to include other companies that were started by other employees that left the company and ventured out on their own.
I worked some other jobs over the years, but kept my business going on the side. I couldn’t leave it. It made for some very long hours often working 8+ hours at a day job and coming home to a quick dinner and then working until bedtime and/or weekends. I always turned work around quickly.
I didn’t realize at the time or even years later that this was anything special. Now when I look at the idea of just jumping in and starting a business it doesn’t seem so foreign.
I believe I am fortunate because I am generally in touch with my life and try to always learn something new as well as be in tune to my body to know when something is off. I have always considered that I am doing the things I should be at the times I should be in life. Some of that changed in 2009.
I’ve believed for a lot of my adult life that things happen for a reason. I don’t consider it karma, but more of an entity bigger than us. For me it’s God, but I am open-minded enough to leave room for interpretation that it could be any higher being. It’s always been a hindsight. Have you ever looked back on a situation or period of time and thought, “This was meant to happen?”
I’m one of those people that fixes things and takes care of people. It’s natural for me and I don’t consider it a chore. I’ve done this for many years and learned a lot along the journey.
In 2000, I met a man that a family member had tried to tell me about for probably almost 10 years. I was focused on raising my son and was not interested in any relationships. I thought that would be taking time away from what was important at the time which was preparing a child to become an adult with good values and to be able to be independent. Along comes Pete!
As Pete would say, sometimes life hits you with a 2 x 4 to get your attention. That statement couldn’t be any more true. Throughout 2001 we talked long distance weekly which became daily. He was in Philly and I was in Roanoke, Virginia. I bought a house and he bought land near here. We were soul mates and he opened my naive eyes to more than I could imagine. As it turned out we had crossed paths in 1980 when we had taken photos of the exact same vehicles at a vintage vehicle show we both attended. We had been to many of the same events in the late 1970’s until I left Pennsylvania to return to my home state of Oklahoma in late 1981. It was obviously a meeting that was destined to happen, but it happened when it did in 2001 for a reason. In 2002 Pete was diagnosed with Stage III Multiple Myeloma which is a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow and can cause fractures. I have no doubt that I was put in the position to meet him and step into his life at that time. Of course when he was diagnosed and he moved in with me I felt cheated to lose someone that I had just met and loved so dearly.
Being optimistic and generally good-natured all through the years taught me a lot and allowed us to enjoy a lot of life and have a lot of fun over the next seven years. In September 2009 things got to the point that he was losing the battle but refused to give up. I had to step in and call the shots and stop experimental treatments and he died later that month on September 19, 2009.
We had talked about it openly and laughed about a lot. I was sure it would be no big deal when he died, but I was completely wrong. I was devastated. I cried for months. Nights were the worse. I could make it through some of the days, but I was not living but just surviving. Then when night would come and I’d try to go to bed I would just sob continuously.
In 2001 also I was laid off from my job as CAD Manager after 10 years. New management came in and decided that the company didn’t need a CAD Department anymore. I will tell you in another post how I began a business in 24 hours. While I did work again from 2003-2007, I mainly was self-employed until Pete died. That was a benefit because through trips for treatment and doctor visits I could work my own schedule.
After Pete died, I couldn’t focus on work. I couldn’t make an income. I didn’t want to do CAD work anymore. I thought I was burned out. I applied for jobs in the CAD field, but the environment had changed and firms either wanted engineers or people with certifications. I was known as a CAD expert, but that didn’t matter. I taught classes, wrote training material, and knew AutoCAD inside and out. I thought it was a good opportunity to have a fresh start and change careers. I have always loved learning and taking classes.
I completed some exercises in careers and found that medical technology was a good fit and sounded interesting. I had never been interested in the medical field because my paternal grandmother was an R.N. and my grandfather was a pharmacist. But working in a lab sounded very interesting to me. It was also very analytical like my CAD career had been. So I started back to school.
There was not a degree program in my town, but I was advised to take all the other classes and then only need to travel to take the remaining few. The more classes I took in anatomy, microbiology, and medical terminology the more fascinated I became. I finally became alive again. I was presented with an opportunity to become a phlebotomist and was advised this would be a good first step into the lab career so I followed through with that and became a Certified Phlebotomist Technician. I learned a hard lesson that while there were plenty of jobs, no one would hire me because I had no experience at all in a medical office or any medical setting. I began to think this was all a terrible mistake with the exception of really enjoying myself.
I eventually got what I thought was a start into a job to spring board me into the medical field, but the pay was too low to live on even as simply as I live and while the company had high hopes of adding phlebotomy services, I never got to use my skills more than half a dozen times and was nothing more than an office manager in a stressful office that had nothing to do with medicine.
While looking for another job and questioning everything that had happened since Pete died, I applied for a part-time job doing what seemed like CAD work. Within 2 weeks I was on a flight for Okinawa and found myself doing more physical work and not much to do with CAD and wondering how I got here.
Now what? Being self-employed seemed like it was the best thing for me. Yes, it takes work to bring in new business and maintain business. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to do this. Did I give up too quickly? I can’t go back to what I did because I’m too far out of touch and still don’t feel the passion I once did. I love teaching others and sharing information. For years I maintained one of the oldest and top read blogs in the AutoCAD world and a blog on Pete’s cancer journey to help other patients and families. I also love nutrition and exercise and mentoring and coaching.
Life is a journey. Are you on the journey you want to be on today? Have you been in the past? Have you run off course? Have you ever made a career change?
It doesn’t seem like it’s been more than a few days since I returned home to Virginia from Okinawa. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been almost a month!
I didn’t have any trouble adjusting when I arrived in Okinawa. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was a mindset, being busy, or having been to China previously when my son and his wife lived there. Grocery stores, driving, speaking to local Okinawa people just didn’t bother me at all.
I thought returning home would be great. I was wrong. I have been knocked off my feet and am having a terrible time adjusting. There was a lot wrong at home I needed to fix after nine months away. I also was overwhelmed by clutter. I’ve always been a collector of many different things, but perhaps all the time in my sparse apartment in Okinawa I became accustomed to simplicity. I felt like I was coming apart the first few days in my own home. When I came to my senses I started yanking stuff off shelves and walls and had a huge yard sale within two weeks of my return home. It’s still not enough. More needs to go.
I’ve looked around and asked myself if I’m passionate about the item. Before, if it was a gift or had any memories I kept it. No more. Now one or two Coke tins that I love are all I need and the other dozen or more that I’ve received as gifts over the years went. That’s just one example of many. I cleaned out my kitchen first and got rid of lots of small appliances and casserole or serving dishes that I rarely used. I made lots of space.
I’m having difficulty finding things to eat like I ate in Okinawa. I have to look harder. I don’t want to shop at the grocery stores here. I’m very turned off. This has also made it a challenge for my family. I don’t want to go out for hamburgers. I want a salad or fresh vegetables or salmon. I am realizing what vegans and vegetarians face when eating out and for the first time I am extra conscience. I’m certainly not the same person that left.
I have not been eating good whole food and am experiencing brain fog and lethargy. I have even had a terrible headache for the past week. I have to take control and change!
In Okinawa I was very in tune with myself and was writing and having a burst of creativity. I knew things would change at home because there is more to be done here. Deck to stain, vacuuming, cleaning, flower beds to clean, etc.
I must set aside time each morning for exercise, yoga, meditation, and writing.
This is the final post in this three part series. I see now that it would’ve been a fantastic experience to share with you had I posted all along during the nine months I’ve been here. Hey, I never claimed to be perfect!
This island is small (smaller than NJ) but feels vast. There are several main highways and one toll rode. Unless you travel to the far North, there’s not a lot of open space. I am always amazed because plants that we typically see in the states as potted house plants are growing as plantings around people’s homes like we would plant azaleas, boxwood, pansies. But these are what are commonly called pregnant onions, dragon plants, and several more. I will miss that.
The first time I had an opportunity to use one of our company rental cars I was nervous. I’m a good driver and can drive a variety of sizes and types of vehicles, but I’ve never driven on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. After a little practice on some less traveled roads near the apartment I got the hang of it pretty quickly. I’m sure when I get home it will take some time to go the side of my car where the steering wheel actually is!
It is my understanding that Okinawans drove on the right until the 1970’s when some changes took place with ownership and some other political issues and it changed to the left.
Everyone drives pretty slow here. The speed limit is 50 kph which is about 30 mph. That’s if you are traveling along at the speed limit. Often you are sitting in traffic. Traffic isn’t bad, but I will look forward to going home and being able to get on an Interstate and just drive even at the speed limit. Because of this accidents are rare and there aren’t the fatalities we have in the U.S. The toll rode speed limit is 80 kph which is just under 50 mph. It feels like you are screaming down the road.
All the vehicles are pretty small. They are generally brands that we have in the U.S, but because of some licensing issues they can’t use the model names we have. Because of that it’s next to impossible to export a car here to the U.S. The vehicle names are hilarious too. The Suzuki Mr. The Toyota Funcargo. The Honda AirWave. Once in a very great while you see a U.S. vehicle that a service member had shipped. They stand out like a sore thumb. I’ve seen a couple of classics, a jacked up truck, and a PT Cruiser.
Because the island is small, you can’t get very lost. The rental cars have GPS so you can see the road numbers and where you are, but you can’t type in an address because it’s all in Japanese. You can type in a phone number in some cases. I’ve tried to just follow my nose and see what I find. I’ve never been lost or not able to find my way home.
I shop at the 100 yen store which is the equivalent of the Dollar Tree at home except I think they have a much better variety at the 100 yen store.
No matter WHERE you go on Okinawa, hospitality is phenomenal. We could learn so much from these people as Americans. When you enter any business no matter the size, type, or how busy it is you are greeted. No exceptions. Cashiers can be running registers with lines of people and still will look up and greet you and welcome you. When you check out and pay for a service, food, or merchandise you are thanked many times not just when you pay, but as you are exiting. Generally it’s about 3 thank you’s.
Okinawan and Japanese people bow and I’m accustomed to bowing. Not huge deep bows, but enough. As you are thanked for your business with so much sincerity they bow to you and you say thank you and bow. As they continue thanking you I find myself backing out the door continuing to bow and thank them. It’s polite and respectful. It’s such a welcome change. When was the last time you had a customer service experience that made you feel like a person or business is there to serve you in the best way they can.
It is written in many reports of both Japanese and Americans prior to World War II that the hospitality of these people stood out to everyone that visited.
As a matter of history, the Okinawa people do not have much allegiance to the Japanese. They were living happily when Japan took them over. They had their own language and laid back ways. Prior to World War II the Japanese started arriving knowing that this was the last defense before Allies invaded their home in Japan. They were terribly mean to the people here. They already treated them like trash and believed they were disposable people. That became a terrible time for anyone in Okinawa. The Japanese showed up and took over. They forbid them from using their dialect for fear they would be spying, keeping secrets, talking about them, or siding with the Allies. You get the idea. The children were pulled from their homes and schools and forced into labor.
The Okinawans lost so much. They lost their homes, land, family, respect, language and a large percentage were killed either during the attacks or forced to commit suicide by the Japanese to avoid capture. But with all that, they are as hospital and friendly as if nothing ever happened. You can’t help but treat them with respect.
I had the honor to meet a survivor and visited a memorial service on their version of Memorial Day. It was an honor and very moving. I would have never learned this or developed these opinions if I hadn’t lived here. For that I am grateful.
Did you know that after the war Japan tried to pawn the island off on the Americans and really didn’t want it? Did you know that Okinawa tried to become an American territory and created a flag, a petition of signatures, and many other aspects? I was really surprised.
I will miss much here and will forever be changed.