A Story a Week : The Voice in my Pocket

The Voice in my Pocket

I'm not very good at taking notes. On those occasions when it is necessary to write down some details for reference, I sometimes try to make a few notes, but later when I am trying to read what I have written, I can understand almost nothing of what is on the paper.

It has always been like this for me; back when I was in school my notebooks were a scribbled jumble, and I still have a vivid memory of a teacher one day throwing a notebook of mine across the room in disgust because it was so illegible.

I sometimes have a chance to see other people's notebooks, for example when I am being interviewed, and look at them in admiration - clean pages with line after line of points, or numbers, or neat sentences. How can they do it? I have no idea! I myself sometimes become a kind of 'reporter', when I visit somebody to gather information for a story for my Hyakunin Issho newsletter. I duly take along a notebook and pen, but when I get home and begin to write the story, the notebook tells me nothing. It is either completely empty - because I was so wrapped up in conversation that I wasn't able to write anything down - or it contains nothing but indecipherable chicken scratches.

It is because of this, that I have picked up the habit of keeping a small voice recorder in my pocket. In recent years these have become both very inexpensive, and very small, and I have become addicted to using mine! Just yesterday, while I was riding the train, I had an idea for my 'A Story a Week' series, so pulled out the recorder, spoke my reminder message into it, and then just slipped it back into my pocket. When I got home, I listened to the memo, remembered the topic, and am now writing the story ...

Last week though, I had a little experience with this recorder that I just have to share with you. The recorder was in my shirt pocket as usual, but it seems that when I left home to go out and do some errands on my bicycle, I must have bumped it when I was putting my jacket on, and somehow switched on the 'record' function, without realizing it. I went to the Post Office, and the supermarket, and then returned home. Sometime later I heard a 'beep' from my shirt pocket, and discovered what I had done. I was about to erase the unwanted recording, but on a whim, switched it to 'play' mode, and set the recorder on the table to listen to what was on it.

What a surprise I got! It had been recording for over an hour, and I could trace my journey by listening to the sounds: the front door closing, getting onto my bicycle, the traffic when I crossed a nearby main street ... the whole journey was there 'on tape'.

So why was I surprised? Well, it's a bit embarrassing to admit this to you, but here and there on the recording, I heard a kind of running commentary on what was going on!

"At the post office, don't forget to mail that postcard for OO-san ... " ... "Hey, that's Akagawa-san's truck ... he's kind of late for work today ..." ... "OK, that's done, now what's next? ... Oh yeah, supermarket ..."

I had no idea that I was doing this ... talking with myself as I went about my daily business! Of course I knew that I was thinking these things, but didn't realize that they were actually audible too.

I think we have the idea that people who walk around town talking to themselves are kind of 'crazy'. I tell you, it's not like that! I'm completely normal ... honest!

 


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