Yes, they really DO run after you

I’ve heard the stories for years about how a traveler or guide in Japan will leave an item somewhere and be chased down by a staff member of the establishment they’ve left in order to return the item.  So I thought if it ever happened to me, it wouldn’t be a big surprise.  And yet, when it does, there’s something innately startling about being the recipient of this level of caring.

On my last trip to Tokyo (a VERY large and maybe impersonal city), I’d left the hotel meeting with instructions for getting to the subway station and on to the correct train to my next destination.  I’d been gone for over 10 minutes, making my way down through the bowels of the hotel, across a few streets and through the underground shopping center.   So, needless to say, I was not expecting to have the nice young women from the concierge desk run up to me, out of breath, and tap me on the shoulders as I was about to climb the stairs to the subway station.   And what was it I’d forgotten?? Nothing!  She was coming after me to let me know they’d made a small mistake in their directions and she wanted to be sure I got going in the right direction.

In the US I run into a lot of companies that purport to be service oriented, but their service is “trained” into the staff.  One of the most thoroughly different things about being in Japan in that the level of caring and attention to detail that is experienced in every encounter and at every staffing level is almost impossible to describe.  After a while, unfortunately, it just becomes part of the experience and I no longer take the time to notice.  It’s only on my return that the truly profound impact of being so taken care of bubbles to the surface and brings a warm smile of remembrance that they really do run after you.

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