Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Final Adventure

Perhaps Japan wanted me to stay a little longer than expected. Or so it seemed, as the moments leading up to departure transpired.

It all began with the typical, "Bags too heavy" juggle that I had to do at the check in counter. Actually, that's a lie.

It began as I stepped foot outside of my place, with two humongous bags. One of which had my garment bag attached. Big, heavy, but still pretty impressive when considering THIS IS MY LIFE. Nothing more, nothing less (well Mom's garage may beg to differ.)

Prior to that moment, I failed to remember that on my way into Japan, I had my bags shipped to my place from the airport. Meaning, this was actually the 1st time I had to carry everything solo. As it turned out, about halfway to the station, I ran into my best friend in the neighborhood, Katsu.

Katsu, worked at a Yakitori stand in the neighborhood. I used to stop by his spot everyday and chop it up with him.

I don't know how many of you have seen the movie "Ghostdog," but there are a few scenes in it, when Forrest Whitaker would stop by the ice-cream man's truck and the two of them would converse. Forrest in English, the ice-cream man in French. The two of them never 'understood' one another, but the subtitles revealed in fact they did.

Well, it wasn't until I had a Japanese friend accompany me to Katsu spot, that I discovered the same was true for us. It was quite an amazing revelation because we were walking away from the place and my friend said to me, "Oh, he speaks English?" And I was like, "Nah, not at all, why?" Apparently his answers to my questions were right on point. It was beautiful, cause he used to always say, we don't speak from our mouths, (Katsu and I) we speak from our hearts.

Anyhow, he dropped everything he was doing, and immediately grabbed one of my bags to escort me to the train. To my surprise, he even got aboard the train and rode with me for a stop just to say a relaxed goodbye. It was yet another sign of the beauty of Japanese culture. And of course, true friendship.

The only obstacle remaining, was the transfer from trains that awaited at Motoyawata station. This would be crucial because there is no elevator and at one point, no escalator either. Or so I thought.

I ended up discovering the lift, and took it up to street level. Once there, I was a bit shell-shocked, because I had no idea where I was or where I was supposed to be going from this unfamiliar exit. Long story short, I ended up walking a good mile+ with these bags as I got directions to the wrong station the 1st go round. At this point, I was grinning and bearing it!!

Once there I actually lifted my bags up onto the platform from street level, before even going through the station, as to avoid the lack of elevatorness. A move that garnered more than a few glances from the rule abiding Japanese folks in the area.

If that wasn't enough, I ended up getting off the train one stop too soon, hence leading to another delay.

But this was no stress, by the time I got to the check-in counter, time was not of the essence whatsoever. That is, until I sliced my thumb open, on a metal record, while attempting to lighten up my bag.

Blood was dripping off my finger, as I asked one of the Airline ladies, if she could help me out. She looked at my thumb, shrugged and said, "I'm sorry, we don't have anything over here that can help take care of that." PERIOD. I was in disbelief. There I was, bags wide open, belongings scattered around the counter and this lady showed not the slightest bit of empathy.

I proceeded to shuffle with one hand, and get everything squared away, before she appeared, this time with one solitary band-aid. I don't know how many Mommy's are out there, but I'm sure you know, you can't just throw a band-aid on a bleeding wound. But I tried!! That tided me over for a few.

At the money exchange, there was a problem with some of my Yen. It had oil spilled on it, so the marker-check failed, hence they refused to change it for me. That took a good 15 minutes to sort out.

Finally I got to security and when I did, the thumb started acting up again. This time, however, the lady working there had a hint of compassion. (She was actually a Sweetheart.) By the time I passed through security, I had tissues for days and enough band-aids to supply an elementary school nurse for a year!!

Alas, my problems were over...that is..until I got to...Immigration? Who has immigration when you're LEAVING the country? As I was waiting in line, one woman asks, "Is there anyone on UA flight 852 to San Francisco here?" I raised my hand, expecting some kind of assistance. She glanced, said something into her walky talky...and that was it. No, express lane treatment. But I was cool with that....until I got to the checker-upper and he decided that because I was not returning to Japan I had to fill out some paperwork. I couldn't believe it.

Meanwhile, they are calling my name on the loud speaker.

At this point, I'm frazzled to say the least. But I eventually pass through. And then the lady, who was absolutely useless, proceeded to walk 10 steps in front of me the entire way to the gate. Glancing back every 8 seconds and waving me along as if I couldn't read the signs above that were blatantly pointing out where I was going. I am mentally chastising this woman, something to the tune of "I know BITCH!" as she continues to chip away at what little resilience I had remaining.

Then alas, I made it to the gate. I took a deep breath, cleared my mind, handed my ticket to the guy and set out for the plane. All was finally moving in a positive direction...that was..until.. a voice from behind called out.. "Security check. Sir I need to look through your bags."



The saddest part of this whole saga was I didn't get the chance to answer any of the thoughtful calls and texts that friends were making/sending. Each of whom knew exactly when I was departing. So sad. But I luff You's!

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