Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cultural Differences: It's the Cops!

One of the wonderful things about being a private English as a Second Language tutor is that I get to travel vicariously. I get to learn about other cultures from my students. The most recent cultural difference I learned about is between American and Japananese police officers.

I have a Japanese conversation student. He and his wife and child are in the U.S. for a year. I recommended my favorite bakery to him. He came back and told me about the experience. He loved the desserts (of course), but he was surprised to see police officers in the bakery buying coffee.

Apparently, in Japan, the police officers must take off, or cover, their uniforms when they take a lunch break. And it’s unheard of for them to stop at a coffee shop and buy coffee while they are on duty.

This seems like such a small cultural difference compared to the others I’ve learned about through my actual travels and my vicarious travels. And yet, it is so pervasive. In the U.S., we just take it for granted when we see cops at coffee shops, restaurants, etc. In fact, the connection between police officers and donut shops is even a part of our cultural humor! In Japan, a cop having a donut and coffee at a donut shop would be as strange as seeing a Martian in the donut shop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My son used to work at a gas station/convenience store when he was in college, and it was the store's policy to give them free coffee. It serves businesses well because the presence of uniformed police officers scares off potential criminals, particularly late at night when my son would often work.