• 02 . 06 . 05
  • In which I celebrate a birthday in Japan by failing to have the correct change for public transport.

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One Year Older, Still An Idiot

So I’m 24 at last, and with my teenage and university years undeniably behind me, I’m supposedly now definitely an adult and in my mid-twenties. Frankly, that just sounds ridiculous enough to me by itself, but I’d have less difficulty in believing it if I could’ve gone even one morning without doing something idiotic.

Having taken the bus into town for my Japanese lesson (I still haven’t had my bike’s 6 month old puncture fixed; age really doesn’t improve the memory), I prepared to pay when I reached my destination. This is the norm in Japan; rather than paying as you get on the bus, you pay as you get off, which usually works fine unless some old dear has to fumble around for her free bus pass. Anyway, I found when I came to pay that I only had a ¥10,000 note and the ¥500 coin which I’d picked up in a hurry on my out of the apartment. Age also hasn’t improved my timekeeping. Unfortunately, when I put the coin in the change machine it was rejected. I tried again – rejected again. On closer inspection, I noticed that it was a Korean coin. Even if I’ve learned that all Asian people don’t look the same, I can report that Asian money does. Without the coin to rely on, I had to try and explain to the driver why I wanted to pay for a bus ride with the equivalent of a £50 note. That’s about $100.

The bus driver was understandably annoyed and I’m pretty certain he thought I was just trying to con him. I wasn’t, especially as one of my mates who tried that in England ended up being given an extra long ride for free all the way back to the depot, from where he had to walk home! The driver didn’t even have enough change to sort it out, so he began asking the other passengers if they had change. Eventually, one old woman shuffled her way down to the front of the bus and proceeded to count out the change 4 times, just to make sure. I just stood there, a slightly gawky, tall, white gaijin gradually turning into a red one. 5 minutes later and it was done, but the other passengers must have been really frustrated. I know I would’ve been silently going mental at the idiot if it had been someone else. If I get more funny looks than usual in the next few days I’ll know why and I’ll start to fear the Japanese passive-aggressive thing again…

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