I live in Osaka, Japan and often use the subway to go to work in the morning. One day, when I was waiting for the train, I noticed a homeless man standing in a corner of the subway station, muttering to himself as people passed by. He was holding out a cup and seemed to be begging for spare change.
A fat woman passed by the homeless man and I distinctly heard him say, “Pig.”
Wow, I thought to myself. This homeless man is insulting people and he still expects them to give him money?
Then a tall businessman went by and the homeless guy muttered, “Human.”
Human? I can’t argue with that. Obviously, he was human.
The next day, I arrived early at the subway station and had some time to kill, so I decided to stand close to the homeless man and listen to his strange mutterings.
A thin, haggard-looking man passed in front of him and I heard the homeless guy mutter, “Cow.”
Cow? I thought. The man was much too skinny to be a cow. He looked more like a turkey or a chicken to me.
A minute or so later, a fat man went by and the homeless man said, “Potato.”
Potato? I was under the impression that he called all fat people “Pig”.
That day, at work, I couldn’t stop thinking about the homeless man and his puzzling behavior. I kept trying to find some logic or pattern in what he was muttering.
Perhaps he has some kind of psychic ability, I thought. Maybe he knows what these people were in a previous life. In Japan, many people believe in reincarnation.
I observed the homeless man many times and began to think my theory was right. I often heard him calling people things like “Rabbit” or “Onion” or “Sheep” or “Tomato”.
One day, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to ask him what was going on.
As I walked up to him, he looked at me and said “Bread.”
I tossed some money into his cup and asked him if he had some kind of psychic ability.
The homeless man smiled and said, “Yes, indeed. I do have a psychic ability. It is an ability I obtained years ago. But it is not what you might expect. I can’t tell the future or read minds or anything like that.”
“Then what is your ability?” I asked eagerly.
“The ability is merely to know the last thing somebody ate.” he said.
I laughed because I realized he was right. He said “Bread.” The last thing I had eaten for breakfast that day was toast. I walked away shaking my head. Of all the psychic abilities someone could have, that one must be the most useless.