Nakatani Apartment, Nagoya

My first big screw-up was today! I guess I'm initiated now.

So I get to the Labo center, and find a note on my desk about my party today. The tutor's father died yesterday, so another tutor arranged to pick me up at the station. Poor lady. Of all the days I could choose for me to be at my best, today would be it. I double-check the directions given to me by the tutor, cross-check the route on the computer, and leave a good 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

I get to Kanayama just fine, I had gone this way last week as well. All I needed to do at Kanayama is find the train that goes to Gamagori. According to the fare map, getting there cost about two hundred yen more than I expected (11** instead of 9**). Right then and there I should have figured something was amiss. It was the only Gamagori there was, so I figured I didn't have a choice. Bus fares back in the US rise by another dime every year, so it wasn't that strange to me. I bought the ticket and went down to the platform.

There were trains all over the place, Rapid Expresses, Limited Expresses, Special Expresses, you name it. After hopelessly trying to figure out what was going on from the posted timetables and maps (all in Kanji, and even so I couldn't find 蒲郡 anywhere), I asked a helpful-looking station attendant what train I needed to be on for Gamagori. He nodded and said "oh, you want the one after the next one on that side of the platform." Before I could thank him and go, he went on to say that I needed to transfer at Kirayoshida. Transfer? The computer didn't say anything about that. Seeing my confusion, he went over to a little lockbox, pulled out an English map of the line, and gave it to me, indicating where the transfer was. It seemed pretty straightforward, and according to the map it was the only way to get there.

The train pulled up, Rapid Express to Kirayoshida. I figured it doesn't get much faster than "Rapid," and this was the train he told me to take, so I got on before the doors shut. On the way, I had some time to look at the map a little closer. It didn't look familiar, and there were a lot more stations between Kanayama and Gamagori than I had expected. The computer said it should only take 35 minutes between those stations, and the more I thought about it, the less I was convinced that sort of time could scale to this many stations. It was an express train, so it skipped most of the stations, but it still wasn't adding up to me, especially with the transfer.

As I was looking at the map of this line, I noticed that "this line" was not the line I remembered seeing on the computer. I had taken the Meitetsu line, and I was pretty sure that was wrong. I futzed around with my work cell phone, trying to get it to dial my scheduler, Ono. I swear, this thing is harder to figure out in English than my personal one in Japanese. I managed to get it to make the call, and we pulled into the transfer station. As I transferred to the next train, Ono figured out how late I was going to be, then called the tutor to work things out.

I was on a relic of a train. Two cars, and they asked people to walk to the front to give their tickets to the driver before leaving. It was a single-track line, so we had to wait at one station for another train to pass the other way. Ono called back, instructing me to take a taxi to the party. I wasn't going to be very late, just a little late; thank goodness I left as early as I did.

The taxi driver was an interesting character. I actually managed to carry on something resembling a conversation with him, that was awesome. It's a fantastic feeling, breaking through these kinds of barriers learning a new language. He asked if I was Brazilian (it was dark out by now). As we got to the Chuubushimi Center, the light came on as I opened the door, and I saw that his hair was a shock of blue. Neat dude.

The Labo Party itself went great, aside from my slight tardiness. I hardly walked in before we started dancing, no introduction or anything. There were three Labo tutors and about three parties' worth of kids. The matching game worked out nicely, we took exactly as many turns as there were kids, so everyone got a shot.

After the main party, there was a smaller junior high party with about ten people. Things went peachy, introductions questions album etcetera, until I pulled out the hacky sack. They loved that thing. They sucked at it, but that didn't really matter. Had a great time, it was over too fast, like always.

One of the tutors gave me a lift to the station, and came in with me to make sure I got on the right train. She loaded me down with food, which was great because it was late and I hadn't eaten. I ate on the platform waiting for the train, there was hardly anyone else there. The train ride back was fast and luxurious, real seats and everything. It pained me to know that I could (should!) have been riding in style earlier instead of spending an hour and a half on that ancient choo choo, although the scenic route probably would have been fun if it weren't for the appointment.

Guess I learned my lesson. Also, my scheduler rocks.


Jeff said...

Somewhere in all that you seem to know what you did wrong... but I am not seeing how, in the moment, you could have predicted this outcome. What will you do differently in future moments? Not make mistakes? We all make mistakes occasionally...

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm impressed that you brave public transportation in another country in the first place. Especially when the language is not your first! I remember trying to call the shuttle bus folks in London one time and couldn't figure out what they were saying (and I was married to a Brit too!). :) You got there - that's the important thing! :) Janet

Anonymous said...

Haha the good old Meitetsu line! The amount of Labo interns who have been screwed by that stupid line is amazing. It won't be the last time this happens to you. Also did you know that Nagoya and especially Gifu specifically accept a really high rate of Brazilian immigrants, that's probably why the driver asked you that.