I got to go to Tokyo today. The astute reader of this blog knows that I was just IN Tokyo. So why did I go again today? Last night I was bouncing down the tracks in the shinkansen (if airplanes were as rough as the train everybody would freak out), looking forward to being in my apartment and my bed. I had cleaned it going to Tokyo, had fresh sheets waiting for me on my own bed, and I was arriving late enough that maybe I’d have just enough time to update my blog just before going to sleep.
For some reason, about 30 minutes outside of Nagoya, I thought to check my pocket for my apartment key. Of course, I knew it wasn’t there, because why else would I check? I was right, it wasn’t there. Oh sh*t. I knew exactly where it was, it was sitting on a bookshelf at Kevin and Sei’s beautiful condo in Tokyo. I gave Kevin a confirmation call and indeed he confirmed it was there.
Now what? It is a holiday weekend, I’m keyless, and my Japanese sucks. I called the “emergency” line for my relocation service. It turns out the “emergency” line is the president’s line and he was in New Zealand. I’m not sure what time it was there, but in retrospect I think it was a pretty inconvenient time to call. By this time it was around 11:00 pm in Nagoya. He thought my chances were slim that I’d be able to get in that night. He called one of his employees to check things out.
In the meantime there were no more reasonable trains back to Tokyo, no colleagues in town, and no key. What could I do? I figured I had to stay in a hotel. It was also becoming apparent that the emergency number wasn’t really going to be effective. I resigned myself to spending the night in a hotel and then taking the train BACK to Tokyo this morning to pick up my key and then BACK to Nagoya to finally be home.
I was mad at myself, and bummed about the cost hit for my boneheaded move. Since I spent so much time at the Marriott earlier this year, I am Platinum Elite and have gobs of points so I thought I’d just take the elevator from the train station to the lobby and check in. Hopefully.
When I got to the front desk I tried to explain the situation. I looked pretty scraggly actually, I hadn’t shaved that morning and now it was 11:00 pm or later. The front desk woman said, “Oh, you can’t just walk in and use points. You have to call to make a reservation.” I said, “Are you going to make me play this game?” I gave them my Platinum Elite card (by the way, to my knowledge, there is no next higher level at Marriott) and her colleague started punching it in. I asked, “What is the normal rate?” “22,000 yen [about $240].” Then they saw who I worked for. She promptly said, “With your corporate discount you can get the room for 15,000 yen [about $165].” In the meantime, her colleague’s eyes got a little big. I think he saw how many days I had stayed there this year (60) and also realized that my company has spent an ungodly sum of money at the hotel this year. I would hate to guess how much. I said, “Look [by the way, if I ever start a sentence with ‘look’ – watch out], I’m either staying here for free or I’m going to a cheap business hotel. I don’t need to pay $150 for one night when I locked myself out of my apartment.” Her colleague said, “Just a moment” and they had a group huddle over in the corner with a manager-type. It was determined at that point that I COULD stay there on points and I was most welcome. I waited a little while longer for a miracle to happen. Unfortunately, no miracle so I checked in. Actually, I’m glad to save the miracles for something for deserving.
I was pretty wound up at that point. Also, the relocation service person who got the call to help me noted that tickets would be really hard to get in the morning. Great. I said, “Well I can always go Green Car (first class) if necessary.” Then I looked at my wallet – I had only 23,000 yen – and determined that, no, I didn’t have enough money to go green car. Sigh.
I went online (turns out internet is free now at the hotel), and checked the train schedule. I could take the 6:50 am train to Shinagawa, arriving at 8:19 am. Kevin agreed to meet me at the station and hand over my key. I could then run to Starbucks, get something to eat, and catch the 8:37 am train back to Nagoya and be back by 10:13 am with most of my day ahead of me.
I got up at 6:00 am, rolled into some clothes, brushed my teeth, managed my bedhead and scrambled to the train station. I got tickets no problem but only aisle seats were available on the train to Tokyo. That meant it was pretty full. After I bought my ticket I watched the monitors showing ticket availability approaching sold out. Wow.
There’s not much more to report. I sat on a train, met Kevin as planned, got a scone and hot chocolate at Starbucks in Shinagawa, got on the train, and headed back to Nagoya. Mt. Fuji was beautiful. That’s about it. My iTouch battery, while low, survived the trip. When I got back to Nagoya, I checked the monitors for Tokyo tickets. Every train on the monitor was sold out (all classes). I’m glad I got up early.
Sorry, no photos to accompany this little tale. I’m just glad I was able to successfully get in my apartment with only a little inconvenience and expenditure.