The plane trip back to Japan was nerve-wracking, because I wasn't sure they'd let me into the country. It was my second "visa run", and this time, I was coming back broke. I had no idea what might happen if they refused to let me in. Presumably, I'd be shipped back to Canada. No, no, and no. Drastic measures and creative thinking were required. I wasn't even sure what would happen if they did let me into the country. How was I to get out of Narita and back to Tokyo?
Creative thinking was needed when I filled out one of the forms at the airport. They wanted to know how much money I had with me. The exact sum was close to 200 円. I decided to stretch a point, and include the coinage - euros, pounds, dollars - in my luggage in my Ebisu locker that I couldn't afford to access - about 3000 円.
That one seemed to pass muster. However, immigration wanted to have a little one-on-one chat with me. I've heard horror stories about immigration at Narita, but these people were fine. I'm sure they tailor their approach to whomever they are dealing with, though. If they had wanted to get a rise out of me, and scare me, no doubt they could have: running their own forms of behavioural assessment must be the hourly routine, possibly running through a set number of various scenarios. They dealt with me efficiently. Of course, they are responsible for filtering out terrorists and slave smugglers as part of their job, so these techniques are necessary.
I sat in a room with a very pleasant-faced woman - between us was the "interpreter" - an apparatus about the size of a very large dictionary, with a speaker-phone set in it. The official wanted to know why I sought to enter Japan for a third time. I was pushing the envelope. I explained that I had first come to Japan in February with the intention of sightseeing and looking for work. I had been as sick as a dog for most of my stay. I had started to pick up in Wakkanai. In Seoul I was on the mend until I ran into an epic series of terrifyingly moronic online banking miscommunications that would have stretched the bounds of human credulity from any institution other than the RBC. This had set me back for another month. I had begun to look for work in Tokyo over the summer. I showed the official a few job interview invitations I had printed out at the Gimhae airport. She seemed mostly interested in ensuring that I had a realistic grasp of my situation. She wasn't crazy about my ipad. They will take my ipad out of my cold, dead hands. My ipad lets me control my own narrative. My ipad is the only thing on this planet that gives me the opportunity to talk about what I want to talk about. Every human on this planet wants me to sing to their tune, promising to graciously toss me little bits of food and money and small, token recognitions of humanity if I parrot the words they put in my mouth. Apparently, I deserve life only as a ventriloquist's dummy. Fuck that.
I'm getting away with myself. Back to Narita. I had no difficulty agreeing with the official that mine was not a good situation, and I outlined the steps I intended to make to rectify it: find a full-time job as soon as possible, with visa sponsorship. The pleasant-faced official agreed this would be a good approach. She said I could enter Japan (hurray!) and I bounced out of customs and immigration. It was about 10:30
at night. The place was packed with uniformed men. I don't know if that's normal for nighttime. I bought a can of Pringles (maximum kCal per yen; also, won't get smushed in a backpack; also, nostalgia factor - I haven't eaten them since childhood, because they don't taste that great.)
I left Narita at 23:30
. It was raining outside, but I didn't care. The rain of freedom! I pulled a towel over my head, and made for the expressway, hoping to hitch a ride into Tokyo. I walked along the side of the road at a good clip, and made it to the expressway about 2:30 am
. I was planning to walk until the rain let up, then catch a few hours of sleep at the side of the road, waking up in time for the 5-6:00 am
traffic into Tokyo. I had just reached the expressway when, out of nowhere, the cops showed up, lights flashing. I stuck my hands in the air, Hollywood style, terrified. Unlike "urban camping", I hadn't anticipated a problem with this one. I had walked along the soft shoulder of a highway many times in Canada. Not necessarily at two in the morning in the middle of a rainstorm, though. Apparently, this meets the definition of the Japanese police for "abunai." Pansies. I apologized profusely - they were very nice - and they spun the car around and hauled my ass back to sodding, bloody, Narita Airport - back over the kilometres I had covered over the last three hours in the middle of the downpour, with chilly feet in leaking shoes. I would have have cried - except that nothing could dampen my mood for long - provided they didn't stick me on a plane to Canada once we got back to the airport. The truth was, I wanted to burst into song. Why not? I had gained another three months' grace, provided I could find some way to feed myself. And I was sure I could get a job this time.
We only went as far as the police station: a little one first, where I was interviewed by a policeman, then a bigger station. I think the police were puzzled as to why I was so bubbly. They wanted to make very, very sure I wasn't psychotic before they sent me back out into the downpour. How could I explain? Worry over my bank had been dragging me down. Once I resigned myself to the fact that I had no money, and that I couldn't deal with my bank, the solution was simple - find a job as soon as possible, earn some money, and hire a lawyer to figure out what the hell was going on with the RBC. Besides, I wasn't in Ontario - happy! Additionally, I was a little lightheaded from lack of food.
I should point out that the thought of asking someone in Tokyo for help outright never occurred to me. They was literally no-one to ask. I am not in any position to ask someone in Tokyo for help now. Or rather, I keep asking for help, and no-one gives it to me, with the great exception of the people at Second Harvest. I can count on one hand the number of people I've met this summer who haven't acted like frightening, deranged lunatics. I can't go to the doctor about my neck, and I can't call up anyone I've met over the summer to ask for help or advice. Just about everyone I met was on a mission to frighten me or hurt me "for my own good", especially past coworkers or bosses, and I think I would vomit out of sheer terror if I ever met any of them again.
The Narita Police ran a priming test on me, for assessment of psychosis. I keep telling people these tests don't work, but no-one ever listens to a damn thing I say. They way the police ran it, it is only an implicit test to a certain extent, and even if it were implicit, that doesn't mean it effectively probes for psychosis, although this sort of assessment can help induce psychosis, in my opinion. Because, did no-one ever point out that those tests are fucking scary, especially when the unwillingly subject/lab animal is better informed than the people running the tests and knows exactly how they are screwing up? There's little more frightening than to have some dithering idiot tie you down and force your hand to stick a fork-full of food into your own eye, and the grounds that you don't know what's good for you, and you need to be fed.
Anyway, the police at Narita didn't do a bad job, all things considered. I slept out on a bench in front of their main office. The office was large, "open concept" - so I could hear what was going on inside. When I woke up about 5am
(but was still half-asleep) a group of them started up a clatter - talking about my situation