“Hello, Hello, Hello!” (short story) by Yasutaka Tsutsui
English Publication History:
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno (Alma Books, 2006)
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno (Pantheon Books, 2008)
Original: Japanese, 1974
Translated by Andrew Driver, 2006
Synopsis: Just a salaryman, one man and his wife casually save money for a home and retirement—eventually—, but are tempted by simple luxuries. As they discuss buying new clothes at the breakfast table, a man enters their home uninvited and announces himself to be from the bank’s Household Economy Consultants. Each time they face a monetary choice, he mysteriously pops into their home denouncing their activities and urges extreme frugalness.
Analysis: In a time—well, ever since rampant capitalism has been around—when we are urged to buy, buy, buy, there is rarely the voice of reasons that tells us to save, save, save. Even if money were saved in the bank, the interest rates in bank deposit accounts are atrociously low; saving money is just as good as wasting it. Investment, however, is a wise choice if a family is able to use their salaries toward a larger purchase… as they say, you need money to make money and not everyone has the free cash to make more cash.
So, people just end up stuffing money away in piddling bank accounts, saving it for a purchase of land and/or a house. Mortgages inflate rapidly with interest and cut into salaries, so it seems that accumulating money is the only way, but even that it uncertain when currencies devalue or markets crash or banks fold. Regardless, you count your pennies and spend your dollars.
In “Hello, Hello, Hello!”, their efforts to save money are hampered by whims of indulgence. Guilt weighs thinly until guilt manifests itself in the form of a Household Economy Consultant. Pennies are saved at the cost of happiness, an emotion which is also the goal of the same saving; but true to a bank’s loyalty to customers—or lack thereof—they see no progress in their saving as the man, who had told them to be so thrifty, disappears. The family of two aren’t the only ones stumped or victimizes by his disappearance.