Monthly Archives: March 2011

St. Patrick’s Day 2011 Tokyo

We’re about three hours away from landing at Tokyo Haneda, not too shabby. We’re flying right along the International Date Line.  I have no idea which side we’re on.  I have no idea what day it is.  I slept during my entire three-hour break.  It was fantastic.  My one and only passenger is still asleep.  I haven’t had to do anything for the entire flight.

There are three meal services to do up here in First Class between New York and Tokyo but I didn’t have to do a thing or cook a single meal other than the needy cockpit.  Well 3/4ths of them were needy, one was really nice and low maintenance. I just move the carts around in preparation for maybe working, but it never came to that. This is easy money.  Not only am I not having to do shit, we’re understaffed by two people so that will be an extra $270 in my pocket. Because of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami and subsequent nuclear power plant explosions, all the people who were supposed to work this trip didn’t show up.  They had to scramble to find minimum crew.  I didn’t care, I needed the hours.  What’s a little extra radiation? If I can’t be tan I may as well be green.

Now I have the last meal service ready to go along with the chocolate chip cookies which I baked to perfection.  Too bad no one will know anything about them because no one will eat them, not even I.  Unfortunately the strange blind man in 1J is coming back with us to New York the morning after tomorrow.  He only booked this flight to rack up some miles.  I guess he needs a few more long flights to retain his status of Executive Prick.

I liked him when he first got on, how could I not with him being the one and only First Class passenger? Me being overly nice was my eventual downfall.  When offering him the newspapers before take off I elaborated on each and every paper we had.  Usually I just say, “Paper today?”

No, I was going to make a point of providing excellent customer service so I did just that and said more about the papers we had than what was printed in the papers themselves.  I felt pretty good about how I presented them but the guy just glares in my general direction and says, “I’m blind!”  Oops.  I had no idea.  It looked like he had a lazy eye but it also looked like the other one was okay.  I apologized and he said it was fine but things would never be the same between he and I.  The worst part was while he was eating his meal (from coach), I was sitting in the empty seat/pod in front of him working on my bids.  I was facing backwards so that I could keep an eye on my cabin.  The man calls the Pursor over and complains that I’m staring at him while he’s eating and it makes him feel uncomfortable.  So I give up, is he blind or not?  I guess only when convenient.

The sun was down when we took off and has been down ever since.  It’ll never come up on this thirteen-hour flight.  It’s nearly 7pm in Tokyo and so the sun has set there as well.  I love it.  The other straight male flight attendant was bitching about it being dark the entire flight but I couldn’t be happier.  A sleeping passenger is a happy passenger.

One hour away.  My passenger is still sleeping though I’m not sure if he’s still blind or not.  I caught him reading his menu earlier.  We’re right above Sapporo and took a turn so that we’re now going straight south.  I’m looking forward to seeing a new hotel.  That’s always fun, especially in Japan where they usually have random things.  I’m also excited about being in a new city.  Tokyo and Narita are not the same thing at all.  That’s like saying Yonkers is the same as Manhattan. I already told my crew that my room is open for nightcaps when we get in.  One guy and one girl have already given me their RSVP.

NEXT DAY-  I’m trying to decide if I want to try to figure out the subway and go into downtown Tokyo.  I know I do but I’m really dragging my feet here.  Some of it is getting over a hangover from my room party last night.  It wasn’t a party so much as just having Kylie and Max over for drinks, music, and Uno.  At 4am we were all wasted and falling asleep on the floor.  I blame the physical exhaustion rather than the vodka.  We called it a night and everyone stumbled back to their rooms.

When I woke up at 9:30am I was still drunk.  When I woke up at 3pm I was still drunk.  The room is still spinning and it’s 5pm.  There could be an earthquake and I’ll probably not even realize it because I’ve been feeling the floor move all day.  WOW, while I was typing that sentence we really did have an earthquake.  The blinds started moving as if the window was open and a breeze was coming in.  Everything else just kinda shifted and slided for about 10 seconds.  A quick check with the USGS website confirmed the quake.  Ok, I may need to get out of here. I don’t want to be found in my underwear in rubble.

Back from my excursion into downtown Tokyo.  It was a little dicey for a while but I made it.   It had nothing to do with natural elements, it was all my own stupidity.  I’m glad I went out today.  Just the subway ride alone was worth it.  The people watching was out of this world.

It’s incredibly easy getting to downtown from here in Yokohama, even though it takes a long time if you’re on a local train.  I only had 600 yen and 440 of it was used to buy my ticket into town.  I figured I could find an ATM or charge my return ticket.  I wasn’t worried.

I got off at the lost stop- Shibuya, that famous place where they have the massive intersection where hundreds of people cross the street every single time the Walk sign comes on.  The first thing I do is cross with the masses and it feels electric.  This is already way better than that boring ol’ Narita layover.  Tokyo is pretty stimulating.

After I cross the street I try to figure out the best way to take a picture of the insanity.  I see there’s an enclosed walking bridge connecting the train station to another building across the street.  It has large glass windows and is three floors above ground.  That should work.  I go up there and get my photo along with thirty outtakes.  From there I just wander around the streets.  I go down little side streets and I go down busy boulevards with huge buildings and big colorful signs.

Everything is photo worthy.  Anything written in Japanese looks like it needs its picture taken. I got pictures of some restaurants, strip clubs, internet/karaoke combo stores, and then a series of a group of firefighters surrounding a building looking intense.  There were at least twenty of them and five fire trucks but no one ever saw smoke or fire, though we were all staring at the same building for half an hour.

I realized it’s St. Patrick’s Day but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to pinch people in Japan. I’m not even sure if they know to wear green today. A see a few kids wearing green jeans but I think they wear those any day of the week. I doubt it’s a celebration of Irish Pride. Should I educate them on the phenomenon? I think I’d be cute to see more teens wearing, “Kiss Me I’m Irish” pins. None of the firemen are wearing green but they look like they’d get mad if I pinched them.

Along the way I looked for currency exchange places and ATMs.  I found no exchange places but many ATMs.  Most ATMs weren’t in English and the ones that were, didn’t seem to like my cards.  Uh-oh!

Eventually I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get out any money.  There’s just no way.  That’s when the search for loose yen began.  I looked on the ground, I looked around over fifty vending machines, I even looked for some kind of fountain where people might throw in coins for luck.  I saw a band playing for change outside a train station and thought about just borrowing a little from them.  I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded if I left them a twenty-dollar bill. It almost came to that.

I had a few yen, enough for a kids ticket or a very short ride, like maybe to the next station.  At least I could buy a ticket to get into the station and get on a train. You can’t get onto a train without some sort of ticket to put into the machine. I decided to just do that and then I’d figure it out when I got back to my stop.  I went to the self-serve machine and put in the rest of my coins.  I got a ticket that would only let me exit a stop or two down the line, but that’s alright, I’ll just keep going even though I know I’ll have major problems later.  At least I’d be near the hotel before someone confronts me on this.  I couldn’t decide if it’d be better to claim out-of-town ignorance or say that I lost my ticket.  I practiced both scenes.

I spend most of the time on the train worrying about this and taking photos of all the Japanese men and women in their little white masks.  Looks like I accidentally got on a train car that’s supposed to be just for women.  It’s all pink and says “women only” but I’m not the only guy on here so I don’t worry about it.

When I get to my station I see that I’m the only one to get off the train.  It’s at a big mall and conference center so after it closes for the night, the area is a ghost town.  That’s a good thing.  I see an exit turnstile and it’s wide open.  There are a couple random people standing around but I don’t think they’re cops or Metro employees.  I take a deep breath and just walk through quickly, but not suspiciously fast.  The once-opened doors start to close on me but I slide through them.  Some kind of bad beeping and red light flashing occur so I just keep going and look confused in case anyone is looking.

There are several exits for the station but I take the very first one I come to.  I run up the escalator and don’t look back until I’m above ground and out of the station.  Thank God.  That could have been a nasty situation, especially if no one spoke English.  I had a feeling it’d be ok but at the same time, it could’ve ended badly and I knew that.  I was very thankful that my exit was a relative non-event.  Next time, bring yen and lot’s of it.  Now I have six hours to kill before my 4:40am pick up.  Thank God for free internet and March Madness.

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