Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.552

After I got my boarding ticket at the check-in counter in LAX, I was headed for the security gate. As a typical, old-fashioned Japanese, I strictly separate the floor on which I step with my shoes off from the one with my shoes on. Without my shoes, I wouldn’t let my feet touch the outside or public floor where people walk with their shoes on. The security gate where I need to take off my shoes on the dirty public floor is a torture for me. My custom there is putting additional socks as covers over the ones I’m wearing, and take them off when my feet return into my shoes. By that way, my socks stay clean without touching the dirty surface directly, which means my home floor also stays clean when I come home and take off my shoes at the entrance. Because of my peculiar custom, my preparation in the line for the security check is quite hectic. I’m pulling a new pair of socks out of my bag, taking off my shoes and my jacket, putting on the socks over my socks, taking off a pin and a wristwatch, putting them in the basket along with a smartphone. The security machine at LAX was state-of-the-art that I had never been through before and had seen only in a news show on TV. When I go through the usual security gate, a beep often goes off for some reason. I wondered how many beeps would go off when I was completely scanned with this high-tech machine. I went in the machine with spread arms and legs tensely. Except that a security worker told me to turn my pendants around to my back, I got through without beeping. I was relieved and taking my stuff from the basket when I noticed my partner had forgotten his pen and his money clip in the basket next to mine. I scrambled his stuff and put back on my jacket and shoes at the bench. Then, the scare hit me. My wristwatch was gone! My favorite, dear watch that I had put onto my jacket was missing. I remembered a man was looking around restlessly beside the pick-up lane. Did he take it? I also remembered a young woman was looking into several baskets behind me. Was it her? Or, one of the workers who scanned the belongings took it while scanning? All at once, everyone around me looked like a thief and I was surrounded by evil people. I had forgotten that this was Los Angeles. Someone must have stolen it. The watch was not expensive, but it was a rare Mickey Mouse one I found at an online auction site and I was attached to it. This trip had been going so well without mishap, and it was so close to be ended successfully. I was almost there. I was shocked that something bad happened in the end and ruined the whole trip. To me, what was gone was not just my watch but my good impression for people here and this trip altogether. I was utterly disappointed at this sad ending for the trip. I told my partner that the inevitable finally happened and my watch was stolen. He suggested I should report it somewhere. I had already given up but went back to the gate reluctantly to make a useless attempt. In a jam of people around the gate, I managed to talk to a security worker. Although I had expected an indifferent response, he listened to me intently and showed sympathy for me. He kindly figured out what to do and told me to go to the nearby counter. A person at the counter showed me the lost-and-found items. There was even a bunch of keys among them, but not my watch. She went away to the distant shelves while I was standing dazed and faint with a shock and despair. A different worker walked past beside me carrying a basket. I casually glanced at it and couldn’t believe my own eyes. Sitting on the bottom of the basket was none other than my watch! I shouted, “That’s mine! That’s mine!” I was jumping, with my arms waving high above me like a banzai-style. The workers gave a wry smile and brought the basket to me. I uttered thank-you for a million times. It wasn’t stolen but merely my fault. It turned out that I had paid attention to my partner’s left stuff too much to double-check mine. The watch had slipped from onto my jacket to the corner of the basket and been left there. The basket then quickly had been returned to the entrance of the gate with my watch in it, but no one took it. I was ashamed of myself. I regarded everybody as a thief, even the security workers who were very compassionate. I was surrounded by good people and the most evil person at the security gate was me at that time…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.551

When I left Anaheim on my latest trip, I got up 6 a.m., took ‘Uber’ again and then caught a bus to LAX. I know so well that the bus to the airport seldom comes on schedule here, which made me too nervous to have room in my mind that should feel sad to leave California. I took the bus because I had purchased the ticket by a round-trip discount, but I thought I would most likely use ‘Uber’ for my next trip. That thought told me I was determined to come back here. Actually, I was searching for a way to move in and live here somehow throughout the whole bus ride. After I arrived at the airport, I joined a long line for check-in. I heard a conversation between a customer in line and an airline employee. “Excuse me, I need to show this passport of mine for the flight, right?” “Let me see, well, no, yours has expired.” “Whaaaat?” I was envious of those easygoing people who hadn’t cared to see an expiration date on their passport up until they got to the check-in counter for an overseas travel. I started to prepare for this trip well over eight months ago. A couple with a baby was checking in before me. The counter person said to a woman, “You can’t check in as your name on the reservation is different from the one on your passport.” She replied, “That’s OK. I made a reservation by my maiden name, that’s all.” “That’s not OK, you can’t take the flight.” “Whaaaat?” The couple and the airline employee began to make numerous phone calls. At one point, they were required a marriage certificate. At another, the woman resorted to pity for an exception, saying, “We have a baby.” Every try didn’t seem to work though. I was envious of those people who casually made a flight reservation. When I made it online, I checked the spelling of my own name on the screen at least ten times. As too many careless passengers occupied the counter, it took so long to have my turn to check in. I intended to show people how smoothly things could go by careful preparation I had carried out. Then I was told, “Both your flight and the next one on the schedule have been cancelled.” “Whaaaat?” It was a clear fine day without a speck of cloud. I wondered when this airline’s planes flew if they didn’t in such nice weather like this. The good thing was, the flight was to Vancouver and I had purposely moved an international flight to Japan to the next day so that I took it with any delays since I didn’t trust this airline. Two flights were cancelled altogether and the next one to Vancouver was five hours later. The counter person told me that the larger airplane would be used because of the two cancellations and my seat would be in the business class. I was also allowed to use the executive lounge. To me, five-hour waiting would be nothing considering the business class and the lounge. I was even grateful for the cancellations. I was headed for the security gate cheerfully with my head full of the coming goodies, and never prepared for the biggest ordeal of my trip that had awaited me next…

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