Walking to an older woman's house today to schedule a date on when to begin working on her home (no land line, no cell phone) I was on one of my three cell phones and not really paying attention to my surroundings. I'm walking and talking and next thing I know a car pulls up beside me and a man gets out. I don't pay much attention except to notice soon after, I'm being followed. I keep walking, stopping here and there a few minutes at a time, and then continuing on my way hoping this signals to him I know he's there. He pulls back and then follows me again. I'm a bit annoyed, find this all a bit creepy but figure it's day time and I'm safe. I continue talking, and stop in the middle of a side walk. At this point he walks across the street, stops and faces me. Something in me snapped. I don't like this.
"Yes?" I say to him. He responds in English and starts repeating what it is I've been saying. Now I'm really annoyed. I ask the person on the phone to call me back and I decide to hash it out with this man. The guy on the phone laughs, asks if I'm alright and we agree to talk later tonight.
"I'm sorry," the mystery man says. "You were talking about ******" and to this, I say "yes, I was" back to him in English. The only way I describe what came next is to use the word "serious outpouring of guilt." I don't think this man wasn't mentally ill or had any issues that would affect my safety. He saw me, a foreigner in his town which he no longer lives in and must have felt I was the one safe person to tell. This is what I tell myself, at least.
He continues to tell me he knew this tsunami was coming, he knew it would be big, and stops just shy of saying he thinks he may have caused it. I listen, still a bit bothered by all this violation of my privacy but nod which he takes as encouragement to go on.
"I watch CNN. I read TIME. I saw what happened in Sumatra. I knew it was a matter of time," he says. He then says again, "I knew this would happen here." He goes on about how he thought the previous warnings were "people crying wolf" which made them ill-prepared, and discusses in great detail what could have been done better. He makes some good points but the barrage of information coming out of this man's mouth makes me think he has had literally no one to talk to for the past 50 days.
Bottom line, it is a bit creepy. I'm not sure what to make of any of this. We weave in and out between English and Japanese and he thanks me for what I'm doing here. I deflect and tell him I'm only doing what I can. He tells me he's sorry to bother me but thought it would be okay for me to tell me all this. There it is. What I thought earlier has just been confirmed. Somehow being foreign makes me okay to tell all this to. That much I'm okay with. I'm a sounding board that people will stop their cars and come after me for. Weird and odd. It's also very real. At least today it was real.
A most strange encounter.