Until a couple of days ago I was feverishly and haphazardly preparing for an academic presentation. On several occasions I went to work very early indeed, arriving before 6 a.m., in order to avail myself of the excellent resources available in my office for a couple of hours before the work day started. No matter how early I arrived, the guys at the front gate were there to greet me and pretend to give me my key. Indeed, even in the darkest hour of the night there are no less than two staff members.
Well, once last week I approached the gate, passing one of them who was pretending to sweep litter out of the gutter in front of the gate. I approached the gate room only to find that noone was immediately visible. I had to call out 'sumimasen' once to bring out the second guard from a back room. He literally ran out bowing, repeatedly saying 'moshiwakearimasen' ('there is no excuse for my unforgivable behaviour')
The intensity of his expression of regret made me believe for an instant that I had re-entered the world of reality, and that he was apologising for his presence, instead of for his absence. I allowed myself the fantasy that he had been reading this blog, and had realised that there was no possible justification for his job, and he was now expressing his shame to me in the form of profuse apologies.
Then I snapped out of it.