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Humor July 2018

Ernie's World

Plane, Train, Taxi, and a Man From Holland

By Ernie Witham

The paper with the two Japanese characters, followed by 4 numbers separated by dashes, then two more characters, three numbers, a dot, then four more numbers got passed around. One neighbor would point one way, while another pointed the other way. Then they would switch.

The taxi driver kept tapping his GPS as we drove through crowded narrow Japanese streets. He turned left, then right, then left again, while glancing up occasionally to avoid running over pedestrians or under buses.

I looked out the window at all the bright signs – none of which I could read. I thought about the title of my travel book: Where Are Pat and Ernie Now?

The owner of the house we would be staying in had emailed the address for us to give to the taxi driver. It had two Japanese characters, followed by four numbers separated by dashes, then two more characters, three numbers, a dot, then four more numbers. The taxi driver stared at it for several minutes before inputting it into the GPS.

It had been a 10-hour flight. Our seats on the airplane were over the wing, which the flight attendant pointed out in case we needed to exit during a water landing. I thought of the movie “Sully,” where he had skillfully landed in the Hudson River. I wondered how long it would take the ferry boats to get to us in the middle of the Pacific.

Delta was kind enough to outfit the 3000 or so seats crammed into the economy section with free movie monitors. I started up “Murder on the Orient Express.” Hercule Poirot was just about to reveal the murderer when a message from the flight attendant interrupted it. “Some of the monitors are not working,” she said. “So, Atlanta suggested we reboot the system.” The monitors went blank. They were still blank hours later when we arrived at Haneda Airport. We had gone through 16 time zones. It was now Tuesday afternoon.

We had lunch. Something with noodles. Then we found the train to Kamakura. It was an express. In the Orient. I looked around for Johnny Depp, to no avail.

There are no “maximum number of passengers” signs on trains in Japan. Pat and I had to squeeze into a standing-room-only car with four suitcases, a camera bag, and a purse. I was the only one within sight with a mustache. It didn’t earn me the respect of a seat however. A little over an hour later we pulled into Kamakura and hailed the cab we were now in.

Our driver turned into a narrow lane. He slowed, looked around, then took several more turns. Finally, he stopped in the middle of the road. Another car approached. He took our piece of paper and went to talk to the driver. There was a lot of head shaking. I thought of a new title for my book: Where Are Pat and Ernie and the Taxi Driver Now? He came back, tapped his GPS one last time, then opened the trunk and took out our luggage, leaving it on the road. He said something apologetic, bowed a few times, then drove away. It was dusk.

Some neighbors came out of a house. They spoke some English. They did not recognize the address. As it turns out, none of the streets in the neighborhood had names. More neighbors appeared. The paper with the two Japanese characters, followed by 4 numbers separated by dashes, then two more characters, three numbers, a dot, then four more numbers got passed around. One neighbor would point one way, while another pointed the other way. Then they would switch. I tried not to panic. All we’d have to do was call another taxi with our phones that didn’t work here and try to explain where we were, so they could take us to a hotel somewhere.

One of the neighbors said something to her young daughter who dashed away. A few minutes later, she returned with a man who spoke English. He said he thought he might know where the house was. It was dark now. We followed him down a steep hill then up another steep hill. He told us he came from Holland. I wondered if he had a different taxi driver.

He stopped in front of a house. It had the owner’s name on it. We found the lockbox with the key. I thanked the man profusely and told him Holland was my favorite country and I loved tulips. We carried our bags into the house.

“That went well,” I said.

Pat collapsed on the couch.

 

For more adventures please check out: Ernie's World the Book, and "A Year in the Life of a 'Working' Writer" This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit: http://www.erniesworld.com.

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