"Honey...we are going to Japan...are you excited?"
And so the announcement of our first overseas posting came.
I was in my late 30s, with two daughters 11 and 13.
Up until this point in time, I had resisted overseas postings. I truly felt our girls needed to form a solid foundation of family. They lived within walking distance of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
But now was the time. Husband had been patient, but if the career move was to be made, it could wait no longer.
And so we go. Truly...in that first few weeks, I thought I had been kidnapped and taken to Mars...yes, the planet.
We are living in an hotel, albeit a beautiful hotel, but it is still an hotel. Trying to
1 - figure out where the heck we are;
2 - where we are going to live for the next 3 years;
3 - where the kids are going to go to school;
4 - and, more immediately, how do we get the dog out of quarantine.
So we struggle for the first couple of weeks of school...me running down the hotel hallway in my bathrobe to the next bedroom (adjoining rooms you say? - wish I had thought of that!)
to get the girls out of bed, dressed, breakfasted and on the school bus, which amazingly came to the hotel to pick them up.
Then it was dress myself; hubby to the office - did I mention the two weeks they promised him to 'settle the family' actually turned into 2 days? No? well no matter;
and head out with my Japanese entourage (who are these people?) to look for a flat/house/apartment/somewhere to live!!!
After two more weeks of this, and husband now telling me he has to fly, weekly, to California (and what am I doing here???) I am about to loose it. I've been shown every, mold-infested, dark, dank, miserable apartment in Tokyo. Time to call in the big-guns...President-of-company-san...can you help me please???
And so the apartment issue is suddenly resolved. Dog is out of quarantine, no furniture? no matter, we rent futon (pillows so hard you wake up with pins and needles in your head) plastic forks, knives, plates and take-out food - but we, and Meg (the dog) are home (loud sigh).
"Honey...guess what? The furniture has arrived! Wonderful, yes?"
"Great...the girls will be so excited to have their stuff."
"I have to go to Hakone that weekend...Company golf-tournament. Mandatory attendance..."
So furniture-arrival weekend comes.
Me and six white-gloved (no, I am not kidding) Japanese furniture men.
Everything, when being packed was marked for assignment as per room, kitchen, dining, bedroom, etc.
Well, given that I spoke zero Japanese, and they spoke zero English, that lasted all of about ten minutes. So chaos ensued, and at the end of the weekend, everything was in the flat, unpacked and all over the show.
Enter husband Sunday afternoon, looking relaxed, tanned, stepping over kitchen pots, Hummel figurines and clothes and says
"Honey...(tongue in his cheek, so he thought)...I thought you were a bit more organized than this.
Mount Fuji erupts!!!
And, because timing is always everything, out walks Jessica from her bedroom,
miserable (about leaving Canada), crying (sixth day in a row) and says for the tenth time that day:
"Mum, I'm hungry...there's nothing to eat in this house!"
(Stab me in the heart right now!)
So...with tears streaming down both our faces, I grab her by the hand and say
"McDonalds...let's go...I know how to do McDonalds!"
So, she and I walk down to Bunkamura at the end of our street and, still crying, present ourselves before our local McDonalds (Teriyaki Burger? - no problem).
The doors, however, seem to be a big problem. She and I walk up to what we presume to be the automatic doors and nothing happens. Back up, try again, still they do not open.
Inside, a little Japanese girl is having her meal. She sees our dilemma and exits by the side door and shows us (stupid white people) how to press the HAND PAD and open the door. We go inside, order and all is well.
As Jessica and I are eating, it suddenly and hilariously occurs to me that that Japanese girl is going to go home that night and relate to her family how she helped a poor
gaijin family that day, who were in tears because...
THEY COULDN'T OPEN THE DOORS AT MCDONALDS!
Thank you and goodnight.
Not sure why that story jumped into my memory today, but it did, and I thought I would share.