Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Will Miss #215 - discretion

There are vending machines everywhere in Japan, but I've noticed that certain types of machines (e.g., condom machines, marital aids dispensers) are discretely placed while others are out in the open (e.g., rice, soda). They're either behind barriers or in places where there isn't much foot traffic. I can't say for sure, but I think the positioning as well as the fact that these types of items are sold in machines where you don't have to hand over your purchase to a human and reveal your intent is a way of offering privacy to customers. Similarly, and somewhat in opposition to the openness about discussing menstruation that I encounter, shops always put feminine hygiene products in a paper bag so that they can't be viewed through transparent or translucent plastic shopping bags. Clinics for potentially embarrassing treatment like proctologists also have discrete entrances and exits to help people hide the fact that they are having certain types of procedures done.

There is a lot of subtle, quiet discretion exercised in the interests of customers, and I'm going to miss that.