Every morning at 7, I buy Nikkei at a convenience store and enter a cafe to take coffee. Even in this digital age, I found the habit of reading paper every morning the most productive and creative way to stay sane and mentally healthy.

At a cashier, an amateur clerk would ask me if I buy a plastic bag too. Japanese convenience stores used to give plastic bags for free, but with laws changed, it is now illegal for shops to offer bags for nothing. So now every customer is asked if s/he needs a bag.

But who needs plastic bags to buy paper in the morning? Buying a paper at a stand must be an instant task that requires nothing to think. Everyone would carry the paper under his arm, and veteran clerks would not ask such a nonsense question. They see me and know that this middle-aged and narrow-minded man would not want to be bothered when picking up a paper for beginning a day.

I know the situation of clerks. There is a risk that a customer would complain that the clerk doesn’t ask if s/he needs a plastic bag. Especially under these stagflationary circumstances, everyone is upset. Alas, just buying a paper has become such an arduous task.