Wed Sep 24, 2008
Funny, You Don't Look Japanese
Something always goes wrong, right? Always. In over 10 years of doing my job there has never been one, that's ONE (1), time that a work trip and associated demo or training has ever gone smoothly.
Something always fucks up. The crucial cable is missing. Someone plugs the 110V machines into a 240V outlet, twice in ten minutes (I kid you not - and it wasn't me.) The plane is late. The bus is early. I travel 14 hours but they don't accept male support staff into the OB scanning room, so I travel 14 hours back again.
Last night I arrived in Chennai. I say night, but it was early morning in my brain's GMT. Things went uncommonly smoothly from the moment as I hit the stale, dusty, rotten-carpet stench of the airport's terminal. I got through immigration on a two person queue. My luggage came it out, like third! I was out of the terminal in record time. Trouble brewing, karma-wise.
I walked into the outside air, whoof, turned to the left and slowly went past all the greeters who stood behind a steel-barrier fence, holding A4 pages of various names printed with a dot-matrix quality for me to decipher. No "E@Large c/o LocalCo".
A second lap found my BOSS's name on the clipboard of one white shirted, moustachioed desperado-looking dude. I said to myself - "Is that MY Nagasaki-Hiroshima-san?" Must be a coincidence. Very common Japanese name. The boss isn't coming till tomorrow, he's in Vietnam today.
I did another lap. No E@Large signs still, even at the Non-Exploding Marriott stand. I went back to the Nagasaki-Hiroshima guy.
"Is that the Mr Nagasaki-Hiroshima from LocalCo?"
Heads all around the area start to oscillate laterally. Mumbling breaks out in various shades of Tamil and Hindi and English as the people next to him translate my query into desperado-ese.
"From LocalCo, yes indeed..." he finally admitted, rubbing a finger on a large mole on his cheek.
I shrug my aching shoulders. Another fuck-up. "I'm E@Large from LocalCo. I'm here tonight, I have arrived tonight. He's not coming today, he's coming tomorrow."
A level of light went down in the desperado's eyes and began he to look at the sign he held as some sort of poisoned package. He took it down, and looked at it, showed it to me. The date was 23rd. Tomorrow.
"He's coming tomorrow night, see? Tomorrow. The 23rd."
Desperado was crushed. I said, "It's OK I'm here. Mr E@Large." He pulled out his mobile and started to call somebody. I asked him to come down to the gate where I could get out of the crush of other people looking for *their* fucked up messages and hotel-car bookings. He disappeared back into the crowd of greeters with the phone to his ear and moved to the left. I followed him on my side of the barrier. Then he pushed through a different section of the layers of greeters and handed his phone across to me.
I couldn't understand a word. Maybe there was something about two printouts, grabbed the wrong one...
I said to desperado, "Yes, it's OK you can take me to the Marriott now. Mr Hiroshima-Nagasaki will be here tomorrow..."
He wobbled his head, which I took to mean either nothing, or OK, or damn it.
When I got to the end of the barrier he took the trolley from me and headed off into the murk of the carpark, never looking back. I hobbled as fast as I could, trying not to lose sight of him as we wove through the chattering baggage boys, tooting Ambassodors backing into parks, gesturing old-lady beggars, surprised families asleep in the moon-umbrage of the trees.
He was not happy to be taking me it seemed.
Maybe Japanese tip more than Australians. Certainly more than
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