Here's my latest 'crazy experience' in Japan. It has to do with Japanese taxi drivers and let me say I salute you guys. No really, just recently one of these taxi drivers saved my life! Well figuratively speaking of course. Anyway it all started with my trip to Hokkaido. My flight was early, at 7:55 in the morning, so I had set my alarm clock for 4:00 am, plenty of time to get to the airport. Well 4:00 am comes along and my trusty little alarm clock goes off, but silly me decides to snooze for just another few minutes. A few minutes went by and I checked my alarm clock again but now it said 7:00am. I did the first rational thing which came to mind, which was panic. How does one get to Haneda airport in under an hour from the center of Tokyo? Is it even possible? Well today I was going to find out, although I had already assumed that I would never get there in time, but still, I couldn't give up yet! I jumped out of bed while cursing myself for a stupid idiot, thinking that I had ruined my summer vacation before it had even started. I packed in under 5 minutes, a new world record perhaps? Ran out to the street and frantically started looking for a taxi. This was my only hope since the train or subway would never get there on time. 5 minutes of despair passed before I finally found one and jumped in, explained my situation to the driver, and asked him for his opinion of whether or not I was screwed. He laughed and said 'Isogi, Isogi!' ('hurry, hurry'). Well if the guy could make a joke out of my situation I figured that he must be optimistic, and I relaxed a bit.
The time was now around 7:15 and the first thing we encountered was a large traffic jam. 'No problem' I thought, 'this guy knows what he is doing'. However as the minutes went by and the cars were still moving like slugs, my own optimism started to dwindle again. Miraculously, the traffic cleared up around 7:25 and the taxi driver started to increase his speed until we were sailing along at a good 120km/h. I didn't mind though, here was a taxi driver who actually cared about his passengers schedules! It didn't matter that he wasn't thinking about my safety, in most other countries, the taxi driver would take the long way, drop you off late, and still expect a tip! Amazingly enough, we arrived at the airport at 7:45! Even though the fare was around 8000 yen (about $100 bucks) I could have kissed the guy! I threw a 10000 yen bill into the front seat, screamed my thanks and told him to keep it, and ran toward the airport doors. I caught a glimpse of him vainly trying to make my change even though it was too late.
Well, well, well, I did it. Or did I? Unfortunately for me the story wasn't over yet. At the baggage gate there were about 40 people waiting in line ahead of me. I groaned and once again my stomach tightened into a knot. I spotted a ground stewardess, showed her my ticket and asked her if I was still ok for time. She said 'no', grabbed my ticket and ran up to the desk where she proceeded to check me in ahead of all the other people! 'I love you!' I shouted as I ran to the entrance gate, but I wasn't clear yet. I had forgotten that this was Obon, one of the busiest travel times in Japan. There were about 5 lines, and each one had about 100 people each. 'Ok, what's next?' I asked the gods, however they smiled upon me again! There happened to be a smaller line and this one was for late people only! Haha! I did it! I got onto the plane at just after 7:55! However the plane sat around until 8:25 and people continued to come in after me, and it didn't take off until 8:35, so if I had known I could have relaxed a little. It seems that pilots and airports could do with taking some pointers from the taxi drivers. Anyway if that taxi driver is out there and is reading this, thanks! I owe you one.
Superman Loses It!
Trapped in the Woman's Washroom
My Cockroach Factory
Your Head is Like a Football
Superman and His Taxi