Step one: Sign up online.
It’s in English, and there is less chance of a person misunderstanding you. Sign up for direct deposit which will also make life easier. Realize after you’ve signed off the computer that they never asked for your bank account information. Maybe they’ll ask after the paper starts arriving.
Step Two: Begin enjoying newspaper.
For a month, the newspaper shows up daily in the mailbox and you devour it with relish. But, in the back of your brain, you wonder when they’re going to realize you haven’t yet set up a pay schedule.
Step Three: Pay the nice lady.
When you arrive late on a Sunday evening, loaded with grocery bags and suitcases because you’ve been at Bible Camp, and you’re tired because there had been an accident on the train line and you had to wait for it to be cleared (it was one stop from yours, so you couldn’t go around it by another way), be on the alert for the newspaper collection woman. She shows up, smiling. Pay her what you owe.
Step Four: Attempt to discern your future payment schedule.
Ask the woman before she leaves if this is for one month only, and will she come back next month, or can you still pay online? She doesn’t speak English.
Step Five: Look for your newspaper the following week.
Ummm, hey … Why did the newspaper stop coming?
Step Six: Have a long-term missionary call the newspaper office.
No problem. A long-termer called for you. He’s lived here 20 years, his Japanese is awesome, and he also receives the same paper, so he knows what happened to you wasn’t supposed to happen. Everything is straightened out. Your paper will arrive as usual bright and early Monday morning.
Step Seven: An hour later, if the phone rings, don’t answer it.
She doesn’t speak English and your Japanese, though improving, isn’t that good yet. She will say Shinbun (newspaper, okay), then something else, then ask you a question. You will know it is a question because there will be a long pause while she waits for you to answer. Finally, you say “I’m sorry, I don’t speak much Japanese.” And you hear her whisper to someone offstage, “English … ” Obviously, she doesn’t find anyone to help, because she comes back and repeats herself.
Now, after a month of Japanese, you can say, “I would like my newspaper subscription to begin on Monday please.” Or, at least you can say, “Newspaper—Monday—begin—please” which in the grand scheme of things means the same thing. And just because it’s a new word you learned that day, you throw in a mainichi (everyday) for good measure. None of this weekend only stuff. It’s your only contact to the English speaking world outside Japan … you need it everyday.
Step Eight: Admit deafeat.
Just say “Yes.” Hang up the phone and pray.
Step Nine: Wait for Monday.
On Monday, enjoy your newly restarted newspaper. On Tuesday wonder why it didn’t come. On Wednesday wonder why it came again.
Step Ten: Never assume anything.
Take each day as a blessing and laugh when things are askew. It makes things in Japan seem that much easier.