This week’s Flashback Friday Moment of the Week takes me back to The Land of the Rising Sun. This morning, I came across this Krispy Kreme Doughnuts commercial on the NFL Network and one of my first experiences abroad with an American company came to mind. It was in late July 2008. It was around 9:15pm on a Thursday. Me and one of my co-best friends, at the request of our pastor, ventured down to the Lumine Department Store at Tachikawa Station to gather some doughnuts. On paper, the record will show that we went to get doughnuts for the pastor but between me and him, it was just another excuse to get on the Ōme Line from Fussa to Tachikawa. It took 17 minutes (7 stops) to get from Fussa to Tachikawa—although 5 of those minutes are unnecessarily wasted in layover at Haijima—and the Krispy Kreme closed at 10pm. We got there about 10 minutes before closing. The Tachikawa Krispy Kreme location was the newest of the Krispy Kreme locations in the Tokyo area, having opened for business 3 months earlier. In all of my previous visits to Tachikawa, the lines were insanely long with customers—mostly train passengers transferring on their way to the westbound locations like Ōme, Hachiōji, Takao, and Ōtsuki—waiting to get doughnuts. With it being so late, there was virtually no line but security was still there. Knowing that my friends and family back in the United States wouldn’t believe there was a such thing as Krispy Kreme security, I made a video.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across this moment long before the night in which the video was recorded. It was way back on June 30, 2007: my Shinjuku debut. I had taken the Chūō Rapid Line down into the heart of the city to do some sightseeing. This time around, I decided against transferring at Shinjuku Station instead opting to exit out of the station’s turnstiles and just like that, I was introduced to one of the busiest and most densely populated areas in the world…not just a section of a particular city. I ventured into the Shinjuku Southern Terrace commercial zone, where I saw the biggest mall I’d ever seen in person up to that point in the massive Takashimaya Times Square. As I was walking towards the mall, I noticed a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and the line was incredibly long. I saw security managing the crowd, a sign that gave an estimated wait time, and a Krispy Kreme worker passing out a free glazed doughnut to every customer standing in line to mitigate the inconvenience of the long wait. I saw a couple of Americans standing in line and as I passed, I asked them why was the line so long. They answered that the Shinjuku location was the only one in the country and it had only opened 6 months before.
What it meant to me then? I took a lot of things away from the Krispy Kreme security experience. Thinking back to me first seeing them, at Shinjuku Station, I immediately came to grips with just how polite they seemed. They were very mild-mannered. Even past the security guards, I think of the customers waiting. Now for those of you that don’t know, Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest train station. It handles more traffic per day alone that the entire New York Subway and it’s only open from 5am until around 12am, unlike the New York Subway line which is open 24/7/365. With the nation’s first—and only at the time I came across it—location there and seeing all the Japanese people waiting patiently for their doughnuts, some up to 90 minutes, it told me a lot about the patience of them as a people. The fact that they gave out free doughnut samples to those standing in line showed me their compassionate side. I never saw that in America.
What it means to me now? It’s a memory to me now. There are many, many Krispy Kreme locations in Tokyo now and they are in such abundance between the major areas of the city that long lines aren’t typical anymore. But that doesn’t mean that the moment resonates with me less. The patience I showcase in waiting—in some areas—is attributed to the Krispy Kreme experience in Japan. The respect I have for any form of law enforcement or crowd enforcement in Asia comes from how well those security guys treated me. And, if nothing else, those guys were just flat out cool. They even took a picture with me.