I sympathise with the Japanese man too scared to charge visitors. I’ve worked in a museum, it’s one great impatient jostle
I felt a terrible pang reading about the employee of Shinjuku Gyoen garden who was so scared to charge tourists the entry fee that he lost the attraction about $220,000. It sounds a rather comical situation, but having done that sort of job myself, I recognised the anxiety and helplessness this man might have experienced. I worked and volunteered in museums for over a decade before becoming a writer, and for the most part it was as gentle, hushed and dusty as I could have desired – staff ferociously committed to their budget-constrained cause, dim rooms playing quiet, amiable host to a trove of historical wonders – with the public-facing elements no less pleasurable than any other. Front-of-house in a small museum is nice: you lead tours, run activities and staff the front desk, all the while meeting people who have sought the place out specially, who arrive excited and leave enthused. Those experiences expanded my understanding of the place I worked. Each good day made me feel interested all over again, and part of something precious.