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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.545

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on the day that I set out for my first travel to U.S. in about ten years. Some last-minute preparations before going to bed and tension granted me only a three-hour sleep. Considering the coming ten-hour flight and the time difference, my next sleep in bed would be 30 hours later. I remembered my old days when I had been to U.S. several times a year. I always departed with lack of sleep and arrived with a strong headache or vomit. I was afraid of being sick again this time and added a new item to my bursting worry bank. I set off on foot to the train station near my apartment. When my partner who accompanied me on this trip bought train tickets, he found a 100-yen coin left in the ticket machine. He told me excitingly, “Look at this! 100 yen! You hardly ever pick this big amount!” He was all smiles as if the 100-yen coin would promise a successful trip. After the local train, I took the bullet train to Tokyo and arrived at Haneda Airport two more transfers later. My connecting domestic flight would depart from this airport that amazed me with the new convenient technology. There was no need to check in at the counter. We just went straight into the security gate without boarding tickets, had our mileage cards scanned with a device that gave us a piece of paper like a receipt on which our flight and seat numbers were printed, and went on to the boarding gate. It was as easy as getting on a train. I flew to Kansai Airport that I had never been before. After I received my suitcase I had sent beforehand and dollar bills I had exchanged online, I was headed toward the check-in counter of the airline I had booked. The airline has two brands, the regular one and the low-cost carrier. My flight was the low-cost one called ‘Rouge’. Although their website said we could check in with a machine, those machines were deserted and lines of people were formed at the counter instead. I had prepped for a use for the machine online, which was a waste. Since the airline has two brands, I wasn’t sure which line I should join. The airline worker approached and asked me which flight I would take. When I said “Rouge,” she repeated dubiously, “Ro..u..ge…?” She sounded like she heard the word for the first time. I was alarmed. Those who were checking in here now were most likely on the Rouge flight. But the airline worker apparently didn’t know her company’s flight. As she directed me the wrong line any way, I looked for the correct one by myself and my turn to check in came. I handed over my passport and my reservation was on the computer screen. Looking at it, the woman said, “You’re going to Las Vegas, right?” My blood ran cold. My destination was Los Angeles. What had happened to my reservation? Was there neither ‘Rouge’ nor Los Angeles? I said in a trembling voice, “No, to LAX.” She made sure of my reservation in her computer screen and said again, “Your destination is Las Vegas.” When I froze at her words, she threw me another blow by saying, “Oh, I see. You’re going to Las Vegas the next day!” My worry bank ruptured and I felt I was going black. The whole itinerary was disrupted and I couldn’t avoid going to Las Vegas. I regretted from the bottom of my heart that I had chosen this airline. I braced myself to end my trip even before leaving Japan. Then, beside me who was knocked out and almost unconscious, my partner said to her calmly, “We’re going to Los Angeles.” She looked in her screen again, nodded, gave us boarding tickets according to my reservation as though nothing had happened. The fact was that she thought LAX stood for Las Vegas International Airport. She was a professional sitting at the check-in counter and seeing customers’ reservations every day, and yet didn’t know LAX. I was about to leave Japan and cross the Pacific by a plane of an airline like this. Now I realized that I was standing on the edge. It was time to jump…

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