One of those “it’s nice to live in Tokyo” moments

Yesterday I met a friend from grad school in Ann Arbor who I haven’t seen in about 25 years.

The day didn’t start very well. He was staying in Tameike-Sanno and I’m not that used to using the Ginza line. If I have to go there (it’s the same station as the U.S. Embassy), the Yokosuka Line goes directly from my station to Shinbashi, which is one stop past Tokyo station. But this time, for whatever reason, the train terminated in Tokyo and I got all flustered trying to scramble for the the best connection.

While running around Tokyo station I dropped a Suica Card (train/subway/bus/taxi/convenience store/vending machine) pass I had bought for my friend, who had never been to Japan, to make it easier for him to get off and on trains.

It was just ¥2,000 (with a value of ¥1,500 after the ¥500 yen fee for the card itself), but still it was a waste to lose it. I quickly purchased another one, and made it to his hotel just 10 minutes late and immediately misidentified the person sitting across from him in the lobby as my friend! Not a great start for the day. My only excuse is that it’s been 25 years, and my friend had his back to me, and the other person sort of looked like him, and I thought, “wow, he’s changed in 25 years but there he is.”

My actual friend, when I finally saw him, really doesn’t look like he’s changed at all except for his hair going grey.

It was embarrassing. But the rest of the day was great as we went around Asakusa, Ueno and Akihabara and back to Tameike-Sanno.

Anyway, getting to the “nice to live in Tokyo” part. When I got back from Hibiko no Kai out in the hinterlands of Hachioji just before, I decided to check at my local station to see if somebody found and turned in the dropped Suica card. Since everything is all computerized now, and since I happen to keep my receipt, the woman at the exit was able to search the Tokyo station lost & found and, as I expected (knowing people in Japan) it was turned in.

So I have a claim number and can go fetch it. ¥1,500 is ¥1,500 yen after all.

I somehow imagine if it was the New York or Boston transit system I would never see the card again. But feel free to tell me if I’m wrong.



One of those “it’s nice to live in Tokyo” moments — 1 Comment

  1. The courtesy, honesty, and altruism that was once common among Americans largely been displaced be an attitude of “me first”, especially in larger cities. I feel confident that in any US city large enough to have a subway you would never have seen the pass again.

    To my mind this change is a form of xenophobia. Rather than being a melting pot the United States has become a whole bunch of individual pots simmering on the stove and the notion of taking care of each other doesn’t make a lot of sense in that world.

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