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MUSINGS / March 8, 2017

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s March 8 issue.

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A homestead family is seen going to a grocery store in town. One of them opens a mail-order catalog and gazes at garments shown in the photos. This is a scene from the 1953 American Western film “Shane.” I wonder how long the customer had to wait for the order to arrive on a stagecoach.

We live in the age of online shopping, where ordering can be done at the click of a button. While the range of consumption is spreading as wide as the Wild West, the speed of the arrival of your order can remind you how fast the star of the film, Alan Ladd, drew his gun.

Quick, cheap and convenient are all traits of good service, but they can go beyond reasonable limits at times. Workers in the delivery industry are fatigued and on the brink of collapse.

They say Yamato Transport Co. will review its home delivery service operations. Due to a labor shortage, the firm is unable to secure enough drivers to deal with the soaring number of deliveries from online shopping. “Here’s your package,” they say with a smile, but behind that facade they must be groaning from exhaustion. We are made to realize the simple fact that things do not just arrive without the human effort behind it.

Even if buyers and couriers both cry “Come back!” [as the boy did to Shane in the film] to the good old days when things were more easygoing, just as the solitary gunman did not look back, the information age will not reverse its course. The contemporary wilderness is convenient but at times it is more than we can handle.

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