If you are just joining us, click here. If you have been a good reader, an attentive reader, welcome back after a long weekend of getting dressed for the Oscars. I’m wearing Armani. Our lame heroine is not. In our last episode, she was wearing little more than her borrowed wheelchair. As we resume, however, she appears to forgiven that cad, Cliff …
What a relief, to discover that Japan’s larger train stations offered wheelchair services. Suddenly, our journey back to Tokyo was looking manageable. Cab to Kurashiki Station, where a wheelchair manned by a station employee in a crisp uniform, cap, and white gloves rolled me to our seats. The employee then radioed to Kyoto, our destination, where a similarly dressed fellow would take over.
The long train pulled into the somewhat familiar, ten-story amalgamation of train station, department store and underground shopping arcade. Waiting on the platform was another white-gloved Uniform. He stood behind a kuruma isu, stood at the precise spot where the door to our car would open. We split up, Cliff to drop in a coin locker the excessive luggage he still carried and me to meet him at the Tourist Information Center.
As if by perverse plan, the moment Cliff disappeared, The Uniform said he could not take me outside the ticket gate.
He said, “This is a Japan Rail wheelchair. It can only be used within the JR.”
“But I’m meeting my husband at the TIC.”
“Then you will have to walk.”
“I can’t walk.” Hence the wheelchair, you lame-o.
The best of my grunty Japanese convinced The Uniform to take me to an elevator that left me fifty feet from a ticket gate. I reached into my fanny pack for my JR Pass.
I found not only mine, but Cliff’s.
Cliff couldn’t exit the JR area without the pass to prove he had paid his fare. He was probably being detained at one of the dozens of ticket gates. In this hyper-honest country, he was probably being bludgeoned as a thief.
I gimped twenty feet, to the Reservations counter, trying not to sob as I stood in line. When my turn finally came, I got out “husband” and “lost” before the waterworks took over completely. The eighteen-year-old behind the counter shook in consternation.
I clutched my cane. If he said my Japanese was very good, I would cave his skull in.
Eventually, I made it clear that he needed to make an announcement. At long last, over the muffled loudspeaker, I heard, “Would Mr. Hall Alle please meet Miss Meyer Cliff . . . ” in the accented English understood only by those who could also speak Japanese.
Really weeping now, I decided I simply had to walk to the TIC. I made it up the first flight of stairs and started across the long passage when I saw a single, shining, white forehead bobbing amid a sea of immaculately groomed black hairdos like a beloved buoy.
Well! I, for one, am quite relieved. For the moment … see you in two days for the next calamitous installment.