High time we quit this rat race, liberated ourselves from wage slavery. Who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another? Some of us feel it more or less permanently. Great idea, we say, but… well, the objections are obvious. The human organism has needs; satisfying them costs money, money must be earned – hence wage slavery, and liberation remains an impossible dream.
Let’s dream a little farther. Spa! (July 22-29) invites us to a “baka challenge. “Baka” means stupid, but it seems intelligent enough to this reader. The idea is to see how long you can go without spending a single yen. Spa! sends its reporters out with strict marching orders: see how long you can go without spending anything on food; sleep away from home without paying for accommodation; amuse yourself without paying for entertainment; and so on.
Free food and lodging – solve that problem and you’re halfway there, aren’t you? Anyone who has ever given the matter any thought at all is familiar with the free samples you can tank up on at department stores and supermarkets. But free gyoza dumplings? One of the reporters lucked into that, at a store eager to get the word out about a new brand. Another bit of luck: the World Cup was on and the Brazil embassy was handing out free breakfasts. World Cups don’t last, but the point is that there’s always something going on somewhere. And if there isn’t? Well, you can always donate blood, in return for cakes and soft drinks.
Free accommodation is trickier. Crashing with friends is one option, if you have friends close enough to impose upon. If not, the park comes to mind, but most of the benches lately seem fitted with armrests and other contrivances to prevent the homeless from stretching out too comfortably on them. Spa!’s best alternative is the airport. You won’t be alone either – many business people sleep or at least catnap there, waiting for an early flight. So it’s quite respectable. However, the reporter’s conclusion is a little disconcerting: “After three days, you really learn to appreciate your futon!”
Entertainment. But first there’s the matter of your personal appearance. You don’t want to let yourself go altogether, to the point where you lose your self-respect. And there’s no need to. Check the internet for “fashion exchanges.” Tired of your T-shirt and jeans? Ready for a new image? Easy. At the fashion exchanges you trade your cast-offs for other people’s and emerge a new man or woman. You can even get your hair cut for free – just show up at a salon where there’s a trainee who needs practice, and volunteer as a guinea pig.
So – you’re fed, rested and spruced up. There’s more to life than mere survival; what do you do for fun?
Use your imagination. You like horse racing? You can’t bet; you can’t even get into the track – there’s an admission charge. But you can go to an off-track betting place and watch the action for free on a giant screen. Not the same as being there, but it shouldn’t be too hard to convince yourself it’s almost as good. Likewise with a concert – you can’t get in but standing outside is free, as is whatever sound leaks out.
So that’s the idea. Ready to tell the boss to take this job and shove it? You don’t have to decide immediately. It’s an important decision and shouldn’t be made hastily.