Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.543

I purchased air tickets to California six months before departure when they were on a limited-time discount sale. Two months before the flight, I received an e-mail from the airline company. It said that the schedules of my flight had been changed. The changes were whopping six hours for both departure and arrival. I was very shocked. I had already booked and bought tickets of connecting domestic flights because the earlier I booked, the more discounted the tickets were. Six hours was too big to adjust my existing reservations and I had to cancel them and get new tickets for the altered flights. Six hours late for arrival meant that I couldn’t catch the last bullet train to ride home after flying domestically, and had to stay at a hotel near the airport to take the domestic flight next day. Those new domestic flight tickets were priced higher as the dates were closer. Added cancellation fees to them, I paid $200 more to what I had originally paid. The hotel stay added $150 to that. One e-mail cost me $350 in total. A month before the flight, I received another e-mail from the airline. It said that the flight schedules had returned to the original ones. I almost fainted. All the fuss I had made was completely unnecessary and I had just thrown money away. It nullified $350 and time I had spent a month before, and I had to go back to my original plan of the connecting domestic flights. I cancelled and booked all over again, with the higher cancellation fees and the higher-priced tickets as the dates were even closer. The total extra cost soared astronomically. I had flown overseas many times in my life, but an outrageous thing like this had never happened before. My partner who will accompany me on my trip to U.S. called the airline. Their phone line was an information number that a caller needed to pay. They made us pay even for complaint. After a long argument, the airline reluctantly agreed to pay for half of what we had paid extra. But there were neither apologies nor recompense for the trouble we had been through and the time we had spent. They didn’t let my partner talk to the manager for the reason that he or she could be reached by a fax. The flight is only a few days away and I’ve been praying not to receive any more e-mail from the airline about another schedule change. Since I will fly across the Pacific by this ‘Air Shambles’ soon, so many worries have mounted. Do they maintain their airplanes properly? Do they examine their pilots’ mental states? Do they let their cargo handlers nap inside the plane too? My overseas travel has officially begun before the actual departure with exhaustion from arrangements and troubles. And I know I will pile up mountainous absurdities and problems during the trip, and will have a simper smile on my face as a result of excess anger by the time of a return. It crossed my mind that I’d better cancel the flights and the hotels and call off the whole trip. That would save a lot of money and energy. But something in me constantly shouts I need to go. Something tells me that if I got cozy in an easy Japanese life, my brain would die and my life would be over here. The sense of taking action and moving forward feels so good. That’s why I like to go abroad despite all those difficulties…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.542

These days, I’m busy preparing for a trip to the U.S. that I will visit for the first time in ten years. Although the destination is the same area as I used to live in, ten years is long enough to change everything dramatically and make my knowledge obsolete. Numerous new hotels have opened and their rooms are WiFi-ready. The transportation from the airport has changed. Since it’s now a smartphone era, check-in for the flight and the hotel is done by it. We don’t need to carry a digital camera anymore and it turned out that an app for a smartphone dispatches a hired car instead of calling for a cab, which I’ll definitely use there. I got a gizmo called an overseas SIM card that converted my cheap smartphone into an essential companion with which I could make a phone call and get data communication in the U.S. The biggest change I noticed above all was price hikes. Inflation in the U.S. and depreciation of yen has soared all the prices and I won’t feel like buying or eating out there when I think of the price converted to yen. But there are some things that haven’t changed. A copy of an itinerary of a return flight is necessary for the immigration at the airport to prove that the return flight has been booked and paid. They check an itinerary copy instead of a physical ticket, which can be forged easily if someone wants to, and is therefore meaningless. Even so that system stays unchanged, and I’m pretty sure so does an arrogant attitude of a US immigration officer. I turned to my journal of ten years ago and I had written there that I wish I could come back to the States before I die. It’s good the wish did come true. It’s even better that my motivation to go to the States no matter how costly it is didn’t disappear. People can become their different selves in ten years either by dulling themselves or by growing themselves in it. In my case, I live a life with so many changes that I wouldn’t have imagined ten years ago. But on the other hand, it remains the same that I’m cheap and desperately make ends meet every day…

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