In this unique memoir Shoji Morimoto explains about his unusual business, a ‘rent a person who does nothing’ service. He tweets about his new service and is soon in demand for people who want to rent him to essentially do nothing. His clients are many, and the jobs are varied. They include sitting in the park with a client who wants to enjoy a beverage but thinks it would be odd to do this on their own. Eating pizza with a woman a year after splitting up with her boyfriend. Accompanying someone on their morning commute because they are anxious going to work. Going with someone to visit their grandmother’s grave, so they don’t have to do it on their own.
Morimoto, who is in his mid-thirties, only offers simple conversation, he doesn’t judge or offer advice, he is simply there to do nothing. After having a boss who used to say things like, ‘It makes no difference whether you are here or not,’ and ‘I can’t tell whether you are alive or dead,’ prompted Morimoto to give up work and start his unusual business. But it is clear that while Morimoto downplays his abilities, that in reality he is no slouch, mentioning a degree in physics, a variety of previous jobs, and that he is married with a child.
People may ask how he earns money from his Rental Person service because he doesn’t charge for his services, apart from people reimbursing his travel expenses and paying for any food or drink he consumes. He has savings put aside that he has been living on. But Morimoto also mentions numerous gifts, and his business has inspired a TV series, and of course, now he will be earning royalties from his book, which is good to know, especially as he has a family.
This is an intriguing exploration of relationships, jobs, human psychology and finding meaning in the modern world. Morimoto has a delightful writing style, and this book is an absolute gem.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan