William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

48. Showa Day, Hesei Technology

I haven’t told this story to anyone yet. Part of that has stemmed from my persistent yearning to keep my facts straight. (And still sometimes I exaggerate. The steel wall behind the school was really more like 1.1 stories tall.) But the other reason had to do with the fact that this is a bit of an awkward, self-effacing story that requires a modicum of alcohol to bring oneself to tell, and that’s what my trip to Circle K ten minutes ago ended up facilitating.

We had a great time celebrating Showa Day (or, perhaps, Showa) with L. We had a great lunch at his new apartment. I bravely or foolishly sought to bring ice cream – it had been a while for me, and I felt that it had probably been a while for the others too, so I stuffed a well-wrapped 2L tub of Neapolitan deep in my backpack for the should-have-been-45-minutes-but-was-an-hour-because-people-kept-stopping-and-other-things-went-wrong bike trip. Remarkably, it was still frozen and semi-hard when we finally reached L’s. It was hot enough outside that I’m sure it wouldn’t have lasted 20 minutes had I not insulated it with my coat and a cold towel.

After lunch and some conversation, we got back on our bikes and headed for a huge beachfront park nestled on the south side the airport.

Even as I was starting to change into my shorts I felt a bit… well…

I guess chilli and ice cream aren’t a good combination for me.

Soon after leaving my stuff with everyone on the beach, I resolved to go back to the main building in search of a restroom. I found one. At first all I could find were Eastern toilets, and so it was with great relief that I spotted a more contemporary unit, and not a second too soon – I shudder to think what could have happened otherwise.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one in that restroom, and so I wanted to hit that flush button as soon as possible. But the control panel was unlike any other I’d seen before. Frantically pushing buttons, I ended up turning on the bidet. On both sides. Gah.

Then I tried a nice big button that was down and to the right of the panel – you know, maybe the panel was just for the electric toilet seat / bidet. So I pressed it.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

“*@&#!” I yelled. And I guess this time it was kind of literal.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

I’d unwittingly triggered some sort of an alarm. The insistent, panicky beeps sounded throughout the building (judging from what I could hear). There wasn’t any way to stop it – and I still couldn’t flush; in my panic and delirium I simply activated the bidet again, but this time at a higher intensity. GAH!

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

I heard footsteps and voices approaching. Okay, okay. Think. Think. I implored the wall and the control panel for an answer. I noticed a not-quite-representational diagram of the control box that indicated buttons on top. On top? Yes, there they were – two tiny little flush buttons, with the kanji for “big” and “small.” I forgot which was which, so I just hit both in succession.

Mercifully, eventually the beeping stopped, but then there was a knock at the stall door followed by a curt interrogation in Japanese.

Um… uh…

“ウン、ども すみません… わたし わ だいじょうぶ です。”
“Uh, domo sumimasen… watashi wa daijoubu des.”
[Terribly sorry. I'm okay.]

I heard something else.

“ウン… ちょと まて ください。すみません。”
“Um… choto mate kudasai. Sumimasen.”
[Please wait a moment. Sorry.]

I guess eventually they went away. I was left shaking and trembling, but left in peace. Gah, holy cra- … um, I mean, wow, that was intense.

As I left the main building and walked light-headedly back to the group, I started to laugh inside. I mean, this whole thing seemed pretty funny. (“Wow, another great moment in my internship!” it could be phrased.) Everyone was all split up doing their own things when I got back, so I decided to save the anecdote for an appropriate time when everyone’s together and we happen to be on a related subject. That could be a while, but some anecdotes keep well.

[Update: I'm looking at my photos from the day, and the button was labelled "呼出" with a yellow kana sticker afterthought "よびだし" - yobidashi, which I've looked up and found to mean "call." D'oh. But the word also refers to the people who summon Sumo wrestlers to the ring.]
Tags: anecdotes, holidays, japan, parks
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