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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Japanese Never Travel Alone


The room contained four young men and extra beds, on one of which lay my patient looking miserable with a wet washrag on his forehead.

At my first question, several pulled out Japanese-American phrase books, a bad sign. It’s a fact that all Japanese study English in school, but all Americans study American history, and how much do they learn?...

Answers to my questions were on the order of “please perform a diagnostic evaluation” or “the reading of the thermometer seems excessive.” I had reluctantly decided to call their travel insurer’s 800 number (phone interpreting is tedious) when the tour leader entered. His English was rudimentary, and, loyal to his culture, he was too polite to tell me I was incomprehensible, but I managed to confirm my suspicion that the young man had influenza. Most likely it was Swine flu which, despite scary headlines, is no worse than regular flu but a terrible illness for young people who take for granted they’ll never be ill.

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