Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Closer bilious inspection of the tickets disclosed that the clerk had sold me passage not from Osaka to Kyoto, as I had clearly requested, but from Osaka to Tokyo. And not plain and frumpy tickets for the usual clickety-clackety semilocal train, but sleek and streamlined tickets for the mighty Shinkansen. I had remarked at the time, from the depths of zomboidity, that the tickets "looked different"; the clerk had responded, looking puzzled, that, yes, they had "changed the design." Note that I had discerned his puzzlement, yet it meant nothing to me at the time. This is a sign of severe zombosis, especially when buying bulk tickets in Japan. No wonder they looked different at my desk after a bite of croissant and a sip of fine tea with my glasses on.

Fortunately I hadn't purchased shares in Tokyo itself, though this was little consolation to me at the time, since in picturing returning these very expensive tickets to an organization as vast and inert as JR I was anticipating something like talking to Jabba the Hutt: "Oh. You purchased these tickets using a credit card? And you expect to simply RETURN THEM? I'm sorry sir, but to do that you'll have to go to our office in Tierra del Fuego." Or: "These are Osaka-TOKYO tickets! I'm sorry, but you'll have to get them cancelled in BOTH THOSE CITIES within 24 hours!" Or: "These are SHINKANSEN tickets, and you bought them on a TUESDAY! But perhaps more seriously, sir, your name begins with B!" And so on as, not to work, but back out into the rain I went...

At the counter the man who had sold me Tokyo was no longer in evidence; no doubt he had been instantly promoted. The clerk who was there, upon hearing my explanation, said something like: "You wanted Osaka-Kyoto tickets---and you bought Osaka-Tokyo tickets?" Then confirmed several times that what I wanted was Osaka-KYOTO tickets, NOT Osaka-TOKYO tickets, just in case my intelligence wasn't working, if it ever had. I, in contrast, was the epitome of politeness in not laying any blame whatsoever on the other very intelligent and highly efficient JR clerk, who had sold me Tokyo when I had clearly requested Kyoto. I simply suggested that to avoid confusion in future, Japan should maybe change the name of Tokyo? Perhaps back to its old name Edo? For the sake of simplicity? Or even Vegas East; the possibilities were legion. He looked at me as if to say: You're the one who bought the tickets. And he was right. But this time I had my glasses on, and my IQ was at least 20 points higher. Still, though: Vegas East... I'll take it up with the Prime Minister next chance I get.

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