Saturday, March 25, 2006

Last Hours in Takaoka

It was a really interesting morning, our last one in Takaoka. We were ready to go when we woke up because we had finished packing the night before. The only things we had to do before leaving were to pay the utility bills and have the land lord inspect the apartment so that he could return Emily’s key money (the deposit she made at the beginning of her stay in Japan.)

Emily’s supervisor, Honda-sensei, came to the house at 9 AM to help us accomplish this.

The man from the gas company came first. He showed us a slip of paper scribbled with some dates and some amounts and then told us we had to pay an exorbitant amount to settle our account. It seemed kind of high, but what could we do?

We paid.

The land lord came next. He didn’t do too much of an inspection, he kind of just peeked his head around and decided that we hadn’t caused too much damage. He decided not to fine us for anything (there wasn’t anything to really fine us for anyways, we did a good job of taking care of the place.)

But wait! There’s more!

He told us that he had already paid the electricity and the water and that the amount would have to be deducted from the key money. That was fine, we felt like he was doing us a favor by paying the utilities for us.

While he told us this he was writing down the amounts on an official looking document that was folded in half. The top half, which was where he was writing, faced up and the bottom half faced down. He walked us through the numbers as he subtracted the amounts of the utilities from the original key money amount. The amount he came up, the amount that he was going to return to us, was around $800 (in yen of course).

He counted out the cash and ceremoniously laid it out on the table in front of us. We were astounded. We didn’t expect to get any money back, never mind $800.

It was too good to be true.

With the cash still lying on the table, he flipped over the piece of paper and showed us the other side. He wanted to charge us about $100 to clean the A/C unit and about $300 to clean the apartment. We tried to raise a stink, but what could we do?

We paid.

I took about $400 out of the pile of money he had just given us and handed it back.

We were probably getting ripped off, but when you consider that we broke the lease four months early, we probably got off pretty easy.

With that all taken care of, all we had to do was help Honda-sensei carry the school’s applicances (washer, heater, fridge, TV, and fan) down to the moving truck that would take them back to the school.

She gave Emily a beautiful furosuki as a final going away gift. A furoshiki looks like a large hankerchief. It is used to carry something, like say a bento. You just wrap up the bento and then tie a knot so that it is easy to carry (or something like that). She told us that the Japanese Minister of the Environment (or something like that) has asked the Japanese populace to use a furoshiki instead of a plastic bag to help protect the environment (or something like that).

Then before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. Carl helped us take our luggage to the station, where we were met my Chiharu and a gaggle of Emily’s teachers. Everybody came down to platform 4 to see us off.

When we boarded our limited express train to Nagoya, I felt like I was in some cheesy Hollywood movie. When the train pulled into the station, we threw our 8 bags on and then jumped on just in time to watch the doors close behind us. As we pulled out of the station, through the door we waved goodbye to Carl, the teachers, Chiharu, Takaoka, and the third largest Buddha in Japan.

1 comment:

Carl Johnson said...

Honda-sensei fucked it up. The school doesn't own the fan. They own the vacuum cleaner. So, I had to carry it to school on Monday. :( Incidentally, I got the couch taken apart and hauled it up the stairs -- it was a chore, but I managed to do it all on my own.