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Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/29 16:49
Okay, I know this sounds stupid but in my building there was an old lady who had a huge box and was trying to carry it up the stairs. I just so happen walk in on her while she was about to ascend the stairs. However, when I offered to ask, she said it was okay. I know at first, it's normal for her to decline the offer to be nice, so I ask a few more times. But then it came to the point where like she was getting aggressive and insist that she did not need help. It was like she wanted me to just leave her alone already. Did I do something wrong? I mean, I really wanted to help her out. She was actually carry the box step by step and as in she wasn't even carrying it, but rather lifting it and placing it on each step as she goes up. Did I approach this situation the wrong way?

FYI, this is in Tokyo. I've heard that Japanese culture is like this where they don't want to bother other people and it is to this extent. Even elderly parents don't want their own kids helping them.
by felguard  

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/29 19:21
I don't think you have done anything wrong approach.
You have offered then she has declined, that's fine.
I asked a handicapped person log time ago as she was on stairs for help but was declined. She said that it's a part of her rehabilitation.
There are many different type of people living especially in Tokyo, so do not worry so much.
by tokyo friend 48 rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/29 20:38
I wasn't there, but it sounds to me that what you did (refusing to take no for an answer) was just plain disrepectful of this woman's independence and tenacity. Obviously, she did want you to leave her alone already, and it's beyond me why you would call HER behavior aggressive. If I were in her shoes I might have considered calling the police!

I guess this is in good measure a cultural thing (perhaps not helping her is just inconceivable in your culture), which may be why I honestly cannot understand why you would keep bothering the poor woman. There could be any number of reasons why she wanted you to go away (it could even be xenophobia, but that's beside the point), but it sounds to me like she made it quite clear that she didn't want your help. Sheesh...
by Uma (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/29 20:40
You asked a few more times but she refused.
If I were you, I'd do the same as you.
Yes, maybe she didn't want to bother you, I think.
Some elders are very serious and patient.
Also I have some similar stories.

I agree with tokyo_friend_48.
by ajapaneseboy rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/30 03:25
Now that I have grey hair I get quite annoyed when some people grab my coat sleeve and insist forcefully that I sit down in a bus.
Just because we get older doesn't mean we are all weak. Some are, others aren't.
If I just spent 1 hour in a coffee shop reading newspapers,then take a bus, I don't need to sit down right away. Standing up after having spent 1 hr. in a chair is good for my body.

I used to work in a home for older people and quite a few of them, including some in wheelchairs, did some special strength exercises, then walked or wheeled themselves around the neighbourhood.

Some of our staff, from a specific Asian country, didn't wanted them to walk too much, carry parcels etc. and our residents were mad at them.

To go back to the original story, if the box the old lady was carrying was big, it makes sense that she put it on an upper step as the volume of the box, even if not heavy, would prevent her to walk up safely, regardless of her age and strength.

Not to mention that what the OP call an old lady could have been 60..not exactly old!

My maternal grandma walked several km a day, every day, and could still climb on a table to get stuff stored on a high place when she was 99. She even scrubbed and washed all her tiled floors once a week on her hands and knees.
Her brother-in-law was still climbing tall ladders nailed to high trees-- to shoot birds with a rifle--in his mid-90s
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/30 08:59
I have seen elderly people swear at trying-to-be-helpful people in other countries. Some people just don't want to be helped. That is why I would possibly ask a second time, but not "a few more times".
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/30 12:05
It sounds like you came across as very rude and annoying. Asking twice is enough(Need help? Are you sure?). If they say no twice, why would you nag them over and over again? It's quite a simple concept. I can easily see why she would start getting aggressive. One "no" should have been enough for you to understand. If the same situation happened to me, I might have thought the person wanting to help me so bad had some sort of mental issues that prevented them from understanding.
by CherryLemonLime rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/30 12:07
You really are a nice person. If this world has more people like you and it would be such a pleasant place to live in. Keep it up. Cheers!
by Jessie Teoh (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/30 21:54
I do think there is a considerable amount of cultural underplay in this whole thread, and the preceding post only serves to confirm my suspicions.

I personally think the world would be a more pleasant place if people were more aware of cultural and personal differences, and more willing to put their own positions aside out of respect for others. This can be very difficult, but when you are in a foreign country (and even when you aren't), you need to understand that not everyone has the same cultural conditioning as you do, and you should always think very carefully before trying to impose your will on others who are at odds with you.

I do commend the original poster for at least asking for opinions, and apologize for sounding so harsh and judgmental in my original response. My own personal and cultural orientation leads me to respect old people by seriously listening to what they have to say, and by encouraging them when they are trying to maintain their independence and sense of dignity.
by Uma (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/30 23:48

I usually stop offering help after the second "no."


Actually, this has been an on-going debate we keep seeing on newspaper opinion pages in Japan, and I'm sure the debate is universal to a certain extent.

The Japanese are educated to help and respect elderlies. But each elderly, of course, has their preference and they might not like to be helped, and we should respect that too.

Now, many people (elderlies in particular) say that elderlies should also respect the youth by allowing them to help you. In other words, even if you don't want to be helped, you should let them help.

Then, other people say that you should be free to decline help, but you can at least tell them your reason for declining.

But I also can understand that it's a hassle to explain each time you decline help. Sometimes there's nothing to explain and you're just frustrated.

I, for one, was helped many times when I was pregnant or raising my baby. Once, a young lady said "Let me help you." and just grabed my baby buggy from behind before you know it and went down the stairs. I was very happy about it, but then later, I wondered what would've happened if she was a kidnapper or if she had dropped the buggy by accident. I think it was some kind of magic that she didn't make me think so on the spot.

Another time, I was in my 9th months and everyone in the train tried to offer their seats, but I kept saying "no." I was too embarrassed to say I couldn't sit because my tummy was too big, and the embarrassment was making me frustrated.

As for the lady on topic, I can think of many reasons why she refused help. She may have wanted to do it for excersise, she may have wanted to keep her rhythm, and if it were something too precious, she wouldn't have wanted to say, "This is so precious that I can't trust you to carry it."

So anyway, if I offer help and the other party says "no" for the second time, I walk away with a kind word of "o-ki-o-tsukete" or I might stay around in the distance in case the person changes her/his mind, or I might hold a door instead of carrying something for them. If the person was handicapped, I would even walk away after the first "no," because I figure they know what they're doing.

Offering help is a great thing and we should keep doing that. But it does need practice to help in the most respectful way.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/3/31 02:03
You were very nice to ask, but asking several time after her refusal is annoying . I'd would of done the same thing if i see something like that, but will only ask twice.
by Sara (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/4/1 21:20
Thank you all for your answers. The answers were all mixed, so I guess there is no right answer for this issue and it just depends on the person.

This probably doesn't matter, but I'll just say it anyway. Honestly, I was just gonna ask ONCE if she needed help and if she said no, I would of just left her. BUT, I was with my girlfriend who was raised in Japan and she insisted that I help her. So I figured, okay maybe it's a cultural thing where in most SE Asian countries, they say no to be nice and not inconvenience others, but in reality, they actually want help. So because of this, I decided to ask again if she needed help. So what I'm trying to say is, I'm really not a nice guy. Now that I think about it, I'm a meanie like the other people who were giving me c*** about asking again. Sorry if I went a little out of line.
by felguard rate this post as useful

Re: Helping an old lady carry a box up the stairs 2014/4/1 22:02
what I and many Japanese may do is:
asked to help her. and she said No.
You keep your eyes on her for a while she is CLIMING up stairs. If she turns her face to you and watch you, you smile and say again "may I help you ?". If she does not do that and you think she can finish it, you leave her.
there is a good timing to show a kindness.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

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