24.5.09

NEXT STOP TOKYO

Narrita Express, Car 8, Seat 3D, 3:00PM

Unbelievable that only 20 hours ago I was sitting in the back of a Philly cab, burning a red light onto 676w. The train I was rushing to make wouldn’t make it Philly for another 2 hours, delays caused by something blocking the track. Plan B: return cushy Amtrak ticket and take SEPTA to Trenton, where my father was going to meet me, and drive to Newark Intl. Did I mention I only slept an hour last night, on the couch in fact, my bed occupied by two old friends. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share a bed with the ladies, but I figured if I went without sleep, my 11am flight would feel more like an 11pm flight, launching me seamlessly into the antipodal time zone I was heading for.

I did my best to not let the stress of possibly missing my flight combined with the lack of sleep (read: patience) ruin the morning. I almost felt like I was being tested, a half blind, confused, (homeless?), man asked me to read from the printed R5 schedule when the next train would be coming. Side note: passing by rice patties right now. I tried to deflect the request by telling him to check the monitors, once his lack of vision was made clear though, I begrudgingly (I’m not sure why) took the 30 seconds to read him the times. I certainly could have been more accommodating. On the platform a college student looking guy came and gave me a sob story about losing his ticket and having to spend the night in the station. The fact he was holding a script with tips like “Keep it simple,” clued me into the fact he must be new to the con circuit. Someone should have written “Don’t hold this script in plain sight of your target”, or maybe it was intentional, I give him a dollar to ease my karma – hopefully the blind man made his train.

A cart full of “AROMATIC TRAIN COFFEE” passes down the aisle. Pushed by what can only be described as the quintessential young Japanese woman performing a boring service job with an unflinchingly earnest and polite presence. The smell of coffee still lingers a few minutes later; the label did not lie.

Upon landing at Narrita, it was made clear that due to the current epidemic, health officers would be boarding the plane to take temperatures and in a general way assess the overall health of our lot. Hazmat suits, masks, goggles, the works. I did my best not to sneeze. After the captain explained we were able to avoid having out temperatures taken one-by-one, because he had vouched for us, explaining to the authorities we were all healthy. Good to know that despite their usual presence as friendly, though disembodied voices, captains of modern aircraft can still spot a plague carrying passenger from 30 aisles away. Talk about Chiba City flues.

We’re passing by what I assume is a sort of suburbs outside of Tokyo proper. The small, tightly backed homes, sporting subtly eastern architectural features, are strung together with a web of electrical lines, antennae, and satellite dishes. The network looks like a make shift restraint, ensuring no one home can wander off too far.

The couple on the plane was friendly, Yale grads now working in finance, taking a week vacation in Japan. I counted 4 blackberries, 2 iPhones, and 1 dumb phone between them. They slept most of the time, though I think I caught a glimpse of her hands heading for his nether regions. Just goes to show that an Ivy Leauge education, and six figures a year doesn’t cure one of those baser airplane instincts.

We’re approaching Tokyo.

3 comments:

rivkah said...

hooray! blog! more!
domo arigato, mr. roboto.

Michael Highland said...

Great your trip is off to an interesting start. Keep blogging! Were the Ivy Leaguers in the seats next to you? Did you sleep at all on the flight?

Mom said...

Sorry--that last comment was from me,not Michael Highland.