Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finding My Way Home: The Trip From HELL

This is probably the most embarrassing things I have admitted to...I don't even know if I will be able to adequately explain how bad it was but here it goes.

After the baseball game, I got off the train at Yokohama and said bye to Travis and his dorm mates. I was in search of the Shonan Shinjuku Line. When I caught that it would pretty much be a straight shot to my transfer. I found the platform, but when I asked someone they said it stopped running. I tracked down a security official and he said that I could catch another train on the same side that would get me there. So I boarded the train and got off at Shinagawa at 9:10.

I recognized two of the lines at Shinagawa, the Yamanote Sen and Kenin Tohoku Sen. Since the Kenin is usually my last transfer and brings me to my small home station, I decided to take that one. I didn't know which side to board on. One side went toward Tokyo station and the other toward the country. I decided on the second. I got on at 9:15.

I realized a little while after I got on that it was going in the wrong direction. Or rather the long way around. But I was like, "Okay, I'm on the right train, I'll just wait it out and I'll get there eventually." At one point I considered getting off and transferring to the train on the other side. But I was thinking I made it this far already, it's bound to go in a circle.

It passed through Yokohama...Eventually I was worried because the train was getting emptier and emptier. An hour later it completely stopped in Igoya? and thanked us for riding. Everyone got off. I was like, you're kidding me this can't be the last stop. I am only like 10 away from being at my station. I had already waited through an hour train ride. There were security people going through the train to make sure it was empty and clean. The sign said it was out of service and it headed off in the direction we just came from.

I frantically asked one of the security guys what I should do to get to Nishikawaguchi. He motioned to the other side of the platform. OMG I have to ride the exact opposite way...It was 10:15.

I got on the train, but at this point I was worried. The trains in Japan stop running at 12ish. I had at least an hour ride to Shinagawa, plus however much longer it would take to get to Nishikawaguchi. I was panicking inside. What would I do if I couldn't get to my stop before the trains stopped? I have heard of people 1. staying out all night, 2. sleeping in the trains/train stations. I could take a cab. But it would probably cost $100+ depending upon how far I had to go. I could rent a room, but that's hardly worth it either. I don't have a change of clothes and it would probably be expensive. I finally settled down and decided that I would get as far as I could, then make a decision when I have to. I have an hour and 45 minutes and time was working against me...

It was the most frustrating feeling, to ride the exact way I just came from. What a waste of my time, stupid decisions. I was alone, totally alone. I don't have a cell phone, I didn't have anyone's numbers with me anyway. Over and over I kept trying to gage how much I was willing to spend. How far I could walk. Where I would stay tonight. How safe it would be.

I passed through Shinagawa for the second time. Then the third time through Yokohama. Am I just going around in a circle or what. I watched people get on the train and off. No one was on the train as long as i was. I took it as a good signal that the train was filling with people. Since I had been on for so long I didn't have to stand. I swear I went through most of the major stations just on the ride back. Shinagawa, Tokyo, Ueno, Akihabara, on and on.

My sole goal was to get as close to my station as possible. I could walk from one station to another if I got close. It may be a long night, but I was unwilling to waste any more money.

We finally got within range. The train was still pretty full so I figured I might be able to make it. I just kept on looking at the clock. Let me get close.

And we finally arrived. I got off the train at 11:45. 2 and a half hours after originally leaving Travis. I estimate that the train stopped at least 30 times from Igoya to Nishikawaguchi. I was riding the train back and forth. I could not even believe I made it in time. Thank goodness, I got so lucky!

Travis gave me $10 just in case I needed it to reload my train card. And I was really lucky he did. Besides that I was all out of cash bills and the machine doesn't take card. I wouldn't have been able to get out of the station otherwise. Wow, another close one.

I went to the $1 food store to pick up some groceries for tomorrow's breakfast. I knew I had enough to get 4 items. But when I got up to the counter I couldn't find the last dollar coin. I had to put back the coffee drink that the woman had already rung embarrassing. I just wanted to get back to my room.

On the way back I realized that since I was stressing out so much, I forgot I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I nearly peed my pants on my walk back. I figured it would be really bad if I was caught popping a squat in Japan. But barely made it back without an accident.

This is probably too much information for one story already. So that was my night. Or a big section of it. And the showers were closed by the time I got back, so I haven't even been able to wash the day off yet. Guess that has to wait for tomorrow.

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