Every weekday dozens of foreigners here fly to
There were twenty or thirty foreign teachers on the morning flight. Two hours later we landed at
It's hard to describe the extent of his behaviour, but suffice it to say you wouldn't want to be in the same room with him. He was talking--loudly--to anyone within earshot, oblivious to the general reaction around him. He moved from one to the next extolling his vast knowledge of
I came out just behind a rather tall British guy, Paul, in a suit and tie and good cuff-links, and the waster came straight for us. Paul and I tried hard to long-leg it to the tracks, but he actually ran to catch up with us. It was 12:30pm, he was drunk, breathing hard and telling us how smart he was, if we'd only give him a chance. There were four of us on the same rail car, Paul and I, the waster and a woman from
At first glance there seems to be little obvious ethnic difference between Koreans and Japanese, though it's a serious offense to mistake one for the other.
What struck me first was the cleanliness of
The visa office was crowded with foreigners, though the process went smoothly enough despite the waster who now appeared to be literally wasted. He spent a good while telling a New Zealander how pretty she was though insisting he wasn't actually attracted to her--he likes them Asian I supposed, but who knows. When she used the word shit he said only prostitutes use that kind of language?!
He spent more time talking than getting organized so many of us were out before him, and in a way we have much to be grateful for his obnoxious presence. These things are supposed to pass uneventfully, and people drift off on their own or in small groups. He brought us together, gave us a common ground, or at least something to talk to each other about.
Eight of us ended banding together, ambling down the street in a vague search for a drink. A bit like a tour group without a guide, but we found a decent spot with tables outside and a friendly Australian girl who works in
How nice it would be to stay longer, we mused. Radiohead was in town, the Ozzie had a ticket for the show and the rest of us were lamenting the impending return flight. Gary--a Canadian teaching in
By 4:30 we all had our papers and regrouped at the Pig and Whistle pub across the street. Time flew by and the responsible ones in the group got restless and headed to the train. Gary and Keith (another Canadian and a veteran teacher here) and I stuck around for one more pint. Plenty of time. We'll take the bullet train, 40 minutes and we're there, laughing our asses off at the ones who missed our last call.
Outside the sun was setting brightly and we legged it hard to the station with an hour and a half to get to the airport. At the station we bought the tickets and then hit the roof as we were told the train wouldn't leave until 6pm. It's 40 minutes to the airport. Our flight leaves at 7. We're screwed.
Think about it. Put yourself in our shoes. Then walk up to platform number nine, feeling your heart sink away from your chest as you realize you're effectively stuck in Osaka--not a bad thing, but under the circumstances, not a good thing either. Then look over and see five familiar faces break into grins. The group's back together, and we're all screwed.
The Japanese are great fans convenience, and vending machines are well stocked with pop, snacks...and beer. Make it or not we grabbed a few for the road and boarded. On the train we sat together and the conductor didn't mind, though I found Paul sitting in his assigned seat one car over and brought him back. Strength in numbers.
It was a little hard to maintain our optimism as we approached the airport. Keith was all for staying, but some of us had to work in the morning, and I don't think any one of us wanted to make that call to
At 6:45 we reached the airport and ran. The international departure area was off the ground floor and a good distance, though we made it to the Asian Airlines kiosk, waving our tickets in the air and screaming "
Laughing, gasping and thoroughly impressed with ourselves, we took the mostly empty seats around us and settled in for another beer before takeoff.