Japan Society of Fairfield County

Culture Watch, Society Watch (15)
by Dr. Ikuko Anjo Jassey

     Who do you expect greets with "Thank you" after you shop at a market? A sales person or you as a customer? In this society, interestingly enough, customers express their appreciation for a service provided by a market, saying "Thank you" to a store employee who often responds nothing or sometimes just utters "Hmmm" or occasionally says "You're welcome." Generally, this peculiar interaction is witnessed at a marketplace, regardless of its size. For me who was born and raised in a country where customers are received solo or in chorus with a word "welcome" and are sent off with "thank you," I have not yet adjusted myself to this reverse of custom. Even in a market where employees are well trained, the situation differs much; we hardly hear them say "thank you" on our leaving. Nonetheless, there is another breed of people who are amazingly courteous in the service sector, compared to those of Japan. They are medical doctors.
      Since my husband and I believe in preventive medicine, we see doctors fairly frequently. In my case, I see six doctors for annual check-ups: Internist, gynecologist, ophthalmologists (general and retina specialist), dentist, and periodontist. Besides them, I use a walk-in clinic for minor problems once or twice a year. The characteristics of American doctors whom I have met are courteous and respectful toward their patients. They elucidate what the problem is and how it would be treated. They even provide information about a drug we take, including its name and dosage. Moreover, American doctors would never say or suggest that his patient could not understand it since he/she is not familiar with the medical terms. (I experienced this attitude of a doctor in Japan when I asked about a drug prescribed for me. However, it seems that today a favorable change of their attitude is observed among some young doctors, according to my sister living in Japan.) In other words, unlike many doctors in Japan, American doctors are not arrogant. Their attitude is professional accompanied with dispositions of helpfulness, respectfulness, courteousness, and often friendliness.
      Recently, we met a distinguished electro physiologist who is trusted by his colleagues as a bright, reliable, and experienced doctor, although he is still young, perhaps in his late thirties. Not only do I observe all the above characteristics in American doctors he partakes, but he is humble and modest. This means that "the boughs that bear most hang the lowest" as a proverb goes. So, in order to express our genuine gratitude, I prepared sushi and delivered it to him and his coworkers when my husband fully recovered. And it was not long before we received a thank-you letter from him with warm and kind words. Not to mention the fact that we live in the world's most advanced nation in the field of medicine, simultaneously this country apparently has succeeded to nurture doctors who provide their services with commitment, care and courtesy.

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