Saturday, December 27, 2008

Train ride

I had such a fun day yesterday! Lots going on and all different. Threw out all my plans for the day and went and played! My plans in the evening to clean and write New Year's cards and maybe get to some quilting or embroidery went out the window too when Marlene called and suggested I join her to a concert that she was going to.

Hmm. One problem. I wouldn't get back until very late and the roads would be icy. Well, then how about going by train, (we each live in another city and there are trains servicing to Utsunomiya, the largest city nearby) and then we could meet at the station. Marlene does it all the time but for me,

"Wow! An adventure!"

Sure, why not? I'm up for some excitment. Drive over to the community station and leave the car. Now, how do I get on the train? Not that it is a difficult job, it is just that in the 16 years I've lived here I've only gone through this station one other time though Takumi had to ride the train into the city every day when he was in high school. It is a one train line and the trains run once an hour. No station master even, everything is automated but of course I didn't know how to buy my ticket either. I pleaded the stupid foreigner (that I am!) and asked an elderly man for help. He must have felt good being on the helping end rather than the receiving end for once. He showed me how much I needed to deposit, which buttons to push, where to stand on the platform etc. I gave him a big smile and a "THANK YOU!" in English.

Marlene kept tabs on me by cell phone text messaging. Sigh. I was really planning to trash my cell phone next year because I use it so little but I have to admit it comes in handy when trying to connect up with a friend. Actually by the end of the evening I was ready to trash it again but I'll get to that story later.

Marlene text messaged me when she arrived at the station.

"I'm here."

"Me too." I text back as the train pulled in. "...but I don't know where I am in the station."

Marlene is easy to spot though with her blond hair so we connected easily and then spent an hour or so chatting and catching up on our families (she has two kids going to college in the States too right now) and then we went to the concert.

Great evening but it didn't finish until 9:30. That's okay. I had text Tetsu when I was coming into the city and specifically let him know I was in the city too and that I had come by TRAIN and that maybe I could catch him later and we could go back home together. He had text me back that I should have a good time. When the concert was finished I text him again,

"Hi. I'm done. How about you?"

"I'm done too."

"Good, then maybe you can pick me up."

"See you at the house."


He'd never made any promises to pick me up so I didn't have grounds to be irritated. Marlene and I just went to the station to catch our respective trains but hers left at 10:00 and mine didn't leave until 10:45. So there I sat munching peanuts that I'd bought surrounded by slightly drunk, basically harmless Japanese businessmen.

Once on the train I got to observe the typical Japanese salaryman coming home after a late day at the office and a quick round of drinking with collegues. I could hardly keep from laughing!

Two very distinguished businessmen in almost identical dark suits and trench coats carrying almost identical black brief cases, tipsily weaved their way to the seats facing me across the aisle. They smiled goofily at each other occasionally bumping heads and going to great roars of laughter and then realizing the noise they were making would shush each other up and giggle like girls.

Pretty soon another businessman that they obviously knew hailed them and dropped into the seat next to them. He too seemed to have overtaxed his quota of alcoholic intake and was having trouble staying in his seat. The three of them looked like they were on the verge of tears because they'd found long lost connections and one man brought out three cans of beers from his briefcase and suggested that they celebrate right there. The oldest of the three declined saying he'd drunk enough and very cheerfully said he felt like he was going to throw up which sent his companions into gales of laughter and they told him to let them know when he was about to unleash because they wanted to move to the far end of the train. (Me too!)

For the rest of the 30 minute trip they told jokes, got into a slightly raunchy story of bar maids they'd known and prophesized about what their wives were going to say when they arrived home. Throughout it all they occasionally clinked their beer cans in comaradarie and either roared with laughter or shushed and giggled and spilled beer on themselves. The man who was ready to throw up decided to fall asleep and the other two laughed and breathed into each other's faces plotting to just leave him sleeping when they got to his train stop. I got off before any of them so I don't know if they made it off the train or not. Provided some good entertainment for me on the long ride home!

I finally pulled into the driveway at 11:30 and Tetsu says

"Where were you?"

"In Utsunomiya with Marlene."

"Oh, hope the drive wasn't bad. I don't like you driving on the icy roads."

"I came back by train of course. That's why I text you!"

"Oh! Did you go by train? I was busy and didn't read all of your messages. I couldn't figure out why you kept texting me. You usually don't like the cell phone."

"Why do I have this dumb cell phone and why do I go to all the trouble to text you IN JAPANESE WHICH IS HARD ON MY BRAIN if you don't even bother to read my messages?!"

What do you think? Should I get rid of my cell phone or not? Well, thanks to Tetsu I got my laugh on the train ride home.


R.H. said...

Now that was a good story and it made me laugh, something I don't do much of these days. As for Tetsu, well it might be in his good interest to start reading all of your text messages and as for the cell phone....better keep it even if you don't use it that often. It does come in handy when you get in a pickle! Rae Ann

Mary said...

Besides the fact that I just got a new cell phone, I think they come in handy even if you don't use them that much. BUT, I think you can certainly get along without one. For me it would depend on whether the convenience was worth the expense and whether I wanted to spend that money for something else.

I love trains and wish we had more of them here in the US. We took the light rail today when my DIL wanted to visit the Mall of America.

Amanda said...

Quite an adventure. I'd have been very anxious coming home alone on a train at that time of night, but perhaps Japanese travellers are less intimidating that some of our English travellers! I've got a mobile phone that I rarely use, but I have a 'pay-as-you-go' option, so it costs me next to nothing. They are useful for emergencies. Perhaps it's time to start training Tetsu to read your texts! Start sending him vital information so that he has to get used to reading them!

andsewitis Holly said...

Funny! We rode the trains all the time so I know exactly what you are talking about here. Thanks for starting my morning out with wonderful memories and a good laugh.

Keep the cell phone. I hate phones, even the cell phone, but it has come in handy and there have been times I wished I had it with me. That's my two cents.

Laura said...

I've only been on a train once. It was so funny because the little boy in front of us pulled off his grandmother's wig! poor lady. Anyway, my vote is for you to keep the phone. Good for safety...or is it if no one answers? lol


Great story! Very vivid in details, like I was sitting next to you! You never know whee you'll need your cell... good to have one, just in case. ;-)

Marilyn R said...

I love my cell phone, but have no clue how to send a text message. I guess you could call me cheap because I don't want to pay the extra fees to allow me to send and receive texts. I have been getting along just fine leaving and receiving voice guess I will stick with that for now!