I was transferred to D-41 early in the morning and made it there just before breakfast. The orientation for D-41 was very short as most of the rules were the same as D-40. I was so relieved to be away from Tanaka and his incessant pestering me about teaching him English.
I walked into D-41 with the purpose of getting a feel for the layout of the joint. That sounds like I was cool and tough, but it was more like I was a nervously shaking and shivering with fear chihuahua dog frightened out of half his piss looking for a place where he could stand where people wouldn't kick him so much. D-41 was much larger that D-40 and had many more patients than D-40 did. I looked for the hot chicks that I was told about and found them. They were two very plump middle-aged women in their late fifties. They looked like someone's kind old grandma. You know, the kind that likes to look at old photos of when we were little and bake stuff for us kids? These two ladies were very sweet to me during my stay at D-41 so you won't hear me saying anything bad about them. They were real sweethearts. As opposed to the white uniform worn by the males nurses, the female nurses wore pink with the typical nurses cap on top. They were cute... I mean, as far as old ladies go.
"Rogers san! Rogers san! Please report to the nurses station." I walked over to the nurses station past a couple of guys who were dancing in the hallway and one guy who, everyday, from morning until night-time, would march back and forth up the halls in a sort of military precision. He looked angry. I always tried to stay out of his way when he came by. He looked like he rather punch you than say "Hello!"
There was a group of twenty or so patients at the nurses station and they were all getting their daily dose of medicine. I got in line. When I walked to the front the nurse looked at me and, said, "Mr. Rogers? Right. Here is your medicine." She handed me a small paper cup with a few pills in it. I grabbed it and started walking off. One of the males nurses barked at me, "No! You have to take your medicine right here where we can see you!" I was taken aback. It wasn't necessary to be yelling at me like that! "Of course," I thought. I took the medicine and drank it down and then chased it with a cup of water.
If you don't cooperate, we may have to do a very
thorough rectal examination, Mr. Rogers... Your call!
"Stick out your tongue!" The male nurse grumbled. I stuck my tongue out and got the feeling that, while D-41 might be better than D-40, this was not going to be a picnic. In D-40 there were some very sick individuals. Of course, there were sick folks in D-41 too but they weren't as bad as D-40. I also gathered that the male nurses were more sympathetic to the mental patients than the druggies. It made sense. The mental patients couldn't help being in the hospital, but the folks in drug rehab? They were total f*ckups. Completely and totally useless. And I was one of them.
They were such washouts that they didn't deserve to be treated nicely or even with one iota of respect.
And you know what? That's right. They don't. Here's a hospital full of mentally ill people who should and would probably love to lead normal everyday lives but they can't. And, on the other side, guys like me, who had all they could possibly want going for them and they throw it away with chemical or alcohol abuse! Think about that! What a bunch of losers! Talk about spoiled brats in a consumerist society! What low-life scum!
I realized this and pondered about it often. I also realized that I wasn't getting out of this place in the next few week, hell, next few months? I didn't know for how long I would be there, and I became depressed. I slumped over to sit by myself on the sofa and wondered how it was that my life had come to this?
Me? I had everything. A great job, a wonderful family, I made lots of money... What a worthless piece of sh*t I was! Think about it! My baby daughter had just spent nearly two years of her life in the hospital for incurable diseases and she defeated a rare and deadly childhood cancer. You wouldn't know it to look at her. She was the happiest most positive kid you could ever hope to meet and was always smiling and bright. Me? Look at me. In pajamas and unkempt and unshaven in a mental asylum. I was in drug rehab and felt that I didn't have a friend in the world who would even talk to me... Excepting Tanaka in D-40, of course. He'd talk to me all I wanted as long as I traded him English lessons for it.
I was the lowest of the low. What a waste of a human life. Dejectedly, I sat on the sofa in the communal area. Just then a tall lanky Japanese kid of about 25 came up and stood next to me. He benevolently smiled at me for what seemed like 30 seconds. Then he leaned over and said,
"Excuse me, Are you a gaijin (foreigner)?"
"What?! Duh! Do I look like a foreigner?" I thought. But not wanting to make a fuss or bad feelings, I answered very politely. I smiled and said, "Yes, I am a foreigner." He smiled back and then looked down to his feet. He paused for a few seconds again, seemingly like he was collecting his thoughts, then he looked up to me again. He said,
"Excuse me, are you a gaijin?"
Author's self image at D-41
"Yes. I am a gaijin." I answered again. I looked down and my eyes grew wide. He stopped and pondered. I stopped and pondered. He shuffled his feet then he looked at me and said,
"I was wondering if you are a gai-gai-gaijin?"
"Yes. Yes, I am a foreigner." I nervously responded. Beads of sweat began to form on my forehead. Was this guy the psychotic Japanese slasher who hated all foreigners and wanted them to die? Is this the guy who thinks, 'The only good foreigner is a dead foreigner?' He continued with urgency and panic became apparent in his voice; the volume growing by the second,
"Are you a ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-gai-gai-jin?" His stuttering became uncontrollable. As he was trying to fight the stutter, he did it by raising his voice and made his face into grotesque twisted contortions. I didn't like that one bit because all the people around were dropping what they were doing and started staring right at us; and all I wanted to do was keep a low profile while I was in D-41. I didn't want to draw any unnecessary attention towards myself. His voice grew louder and louder... The stuttering became a scream!
"Are you a ga-ga-ga-GA-GA-GA- gainjin?"
"Yes!" I sqeeked like a little mouse.
The trumpets in my head were blaring! I put both hands over my ears and to cover my head!
"Ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-GA-GA-GA-GA-GA-GAIJIN?" He warped his face into comical but frightening contortions (kind of like the singer of a punk band would do - they're all crazy too) as he nearly screamed at me. His fingers were pointing towards me yet they were all twisted up in every which direction like a sort of disheveled and broken Japanese Edward Scissorshands.
I had definitely fallen into a sort of Twilight Zone. I was an extra, with no escape, on the set of the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Oh the pain! I pulled the covers over my head and hid from the monsters lurking outside. I knew it! This time I had finally done it. I had f*cked up REALLY big time this time and there would be no mommy or daddy or anyone to save my ass. I was doomed.
Later on, I'd ask my doctor about what had happened and he told me not to worry. He said there were a very many schizophrenic patients there and that most of them couldn't remember what had just transpired a few seconds before hand. He told me not to worry about seeming like I was rude because that guy probably doesn't remember it all all. Wow! A forgiving guy!
Oh, if only supposed sane people could be so forgiving about minor transgressions within a few seconds in the outside world!
It was about this time that I think my body had basically flushed out all the chemicals and drugs that caused me to have bizarre delusions of grandeur and wild ideas. I could tell that I was getting back to normal.... Well, almost back to normal. Why? Because I started having a very wild imagination again.
In my mind, I kept seeing myself and this entire situation as a movie. Or perhaps, that was a survival mechanism for saving my sanity? I thought it best if I viewed this entire mess as some sort of twisted cinema that would someday win me the Academy Award for Best Script of the Year award. Here I was, the hero of the film, trapped in an insane asylum with a bunch of crazy people. Why was I here? Well, of course, it was all a mistake. I shouldn't have been put here in the first place. Just a little misunderstanding, you see. It would all become clearer and clearer why I shouldn't be there as time passed.... In the end, I get the girl....
Unfortunately, my imagination didn't matter to the masters of this sick experiment. They wanted torture and I knew that I had to get out of there before it was too late. "The evil ones are never satisfied," I thought.
I knew that I had to get free before, before... Well, before I became one of them! A few days before, one of the patients in D-40 had pulled me aside to whisper to me that the doctors of the entire hospital were completely insane. Of course, I didn't believe him at the time. But, when he told me the reasons for his thinking, I thought about it and it made sense. I couldn't argue with the logic.
He told me that all the doctors at the hospital were insane because all the patients were insane too and, it follows reason that it is impossible to stay sane when you are working with insane people all day. Even Nietzsche wrote:
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
I knew that if I stayed there too long, I'd become like
my captors.... I'd become one of them!
Now, for me, the seed had been planted. I was beginning to suspect everyone's sanity at D-41; the patients, the doctors, the nurses (excepting the two nice grandma types); I even began suspecting the ladies in the cafeteria. Everyone was possibly stark raving mad at this place and, before I became like them, I had to escape. I had to plan a Great Escape.
Soon the theme song from the sixties cinema thriller starring Steve McQueen started running over and over in my head. And, it kept getting louder and louder as the hours went on. For the first four days in D-41 all I did was plan and consider different methods of escape. But how?
I kid you not! Planning my escape engulfed my first four days there. Sometimes the theme song of Great Escape would be playing so loud in my head I began to worry that other people might hear the music bleeding through my ears! And, if they heard me, they'd ruin my plans. Or I'd worry that I might be humming the tune so loud that a patient might recognize the song and report me to gestapo, er, I mean, nurse station.
This is where this particular episode really gets out there, folks. I investigated every way of escape: I sat and watched the delivery and cleaning people. I looked at what time and when these chores were performed. I had checked out where the deliveries came in, where the cleaning lady opened the door to take in and out her cleaning supplies. Could I have jumped in and hidden in the trash dumpster and been dumped out with the trash outside of the hospital? Or how about strapping myself to the underside of a delivery truck that would be driving out of the compound? Those seemed pretty tough to me. I also considered the possibility of a mad dash out the door... You know, fastest distance between two points and all that.
I decided that the mad dash idea was no good because I found out that the nurses remove the shoelaces from every one's shoes. So, even if you got your shoes on and you got outside of the door, it's pretty hard to run a 100 meter mad dash with no shoelaces on. Try it sometime and you'll see.
I also figured that idea was no good because if I were running around on the hospital grounds like a lost chicken asking for the exit, some doctors or nurses might see me and ask, "Excuse me, Mr. Rogers? Where do you think you're going?" And, if that happened, I know that would mean another week or two back into the cooler. No! I needed a better idea! I needed to use my American cunning! After all we did win the war against the Krauts and the Japs, right? I figured that I'd escape by outsmarting these guys.
That was it! Genius! I knew there was a reason that the theme song from Great Escape was playing over and over in my head! I decided that the best way out of D-41 was to dig a tunnel through the concrete floor, under my bed and out across the hospital grounds and into safety! Brilliant!
I could see myself and the other patients chuckling as we lifted the escape on the other end of tunnel and dozens of us fleeing into the night on a daring midnight escape. Why, my picture would even be on the front page of every major newspaper and network in Japan. I'd be famous! My first's wife's parent's would see that and certainly say to my first wife, "See? I told you you shouldn't have married that crazy foreigner!"
I would be a star. Like Jessie James or Ronald Biggs....
"Last one out is a rotten egg!"
To make my plan work, I knew that I would need some dependable accomplishes and decided that I would start to ask around at the "talent pool." I decided that I needed to talk to just about everyone just to see if I could find out which ones were in the proper mental condition to want to break out of this joint with me.
I figured we could do it just like the in the movie: We'd set up some sort of pulley that would lift up my cot. Under the cot, would be the tunnel, covered by some well placed stuff. The tunnel would be dug during the afternoons when most of the nurses weren't around. Two guys would dig. One guy would be on lookout at the door of the room and two guys on lookout all up and down the hall.
Finding five guys who would be dependable and keep their mouths shut while we tunneled out of a mental hospital? No problem! There was also the problem of what t do about having dirt all over you when you were only allowed baths 3 times a week, but I figured we'd worry about that later.
Being a guy who is quite able to multi-task, I also decided that I would start to accumulate the tools we would need to dig out of the ward. I stomped on the floor of the hospital and it seemed pretty clear to me that the floors were your typical, tile covering one ~ two feet of concrete reinforced with steel mesh. It would take a lot to dig through that! I figured I'd need at least 4 or 5 teaspoons.
I'm not kidding. I really thought that.
At breakfast, lunch and dinner, the cafeteria gave each patient one spoon, one fork, one butter knife and one tray. When you were done with your food, you had to return the tray and utensils and the cafeteria ladies would check to make sure that there was nothing missing.
From watching Hollywood movies you'd think they wouldn't give out butter knives but, at this hospital, they did. Though they were very strict with the utensils. It was simple; you were given the set, you were expected to return the full set. I knew that I would have to be sly in order to steal the tools that we'd need to tunnel through 2 feet of solid concrete: I knew I'd have to have quick hands if I were to steal the teaspoons we'd need for that back breaking job.
I knew that if I took the teaspoons from my tray, they'd notice them missing and then they'd probably call me to the nurse station for a debriefing. I could see it now, the gestapo nurse would be blaring a bright light into my face and demanding "Ze location of ze allied teaspoons!"
"I don't know! I don't know! And even if I did know, I'd never tell you!" I reply in exhaustion....
Come to think of it. Don't want that! Nope. I didn't want to draw attention to me, so I decided that I'd steal the teaspoons from other people's trays so the nurses would think they were the ones planning something. Pretty smart, eh?
So for the next three days, I stole five teaspoons from other patients trays. I overheard the cafeteria people talking with the nurses about the missing spoons and began to get nervous.
What if the doctors or nurses were to call a sudden inspection to locate the missing spoons? What if the doctors were to call a meeting with all the patients and demand that the person who stole the spoons give them back? What if some of the other patients saw me stealing the spoons?
Suddenly, I realized I had dangerous contraband hidden in my cot. If there were an unannounced inspection of our rooms and cots, then they would surely find the spoons and then I'd get grilled on the reasons for having the spoons.
I was in a now in a no-win situation. If I told them that I was planning on digging out of the hospital through underground tunnel using teaspoons instead of shovels, they'd surely think I was nuts and want to keep me there longer. If I didn't tell them about my plan, they'd think I was a Kleptomaniac with a teaspoon fetish and that would probably add another six months to a year on my internment.
No matter what, I told them, I knew that I was doomed. I had to do something to get rid of those spoons as soon as possible.
The next part is here: Mr. Cool, Chocolate Addictions and a Paradox of Insanity in Today's World - Drug Rehab at Asia's Most Famous Hospital - Part 4 http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2012/02/mr-cool-chocolate-addictions-and.html