I’ve just spent the last 1 1/2 hours scrambling to help a stranded Alexa get in touch with the friends she’s supposed to meet in Nara. (Typing this as I wait for her to call me to let me know she reached safely.) It all went something like this…
– 11:15 – I get an IM from Alexa, asking if I know anyone in Nara, and explaining the situation (supposed to be meeting friends, but the phone number she was given doesn’t work, she was in the hospital this morning and still feels pretty sick).
– 11:20 – We start throwing around contingency plans for ways that she can get some sleep, before she catches the earliest train back home tomorrow since she can’t reach her friends and they can’t reach her–I suggest talking to the people who run the internet cafe to see if they have a cot in back where she can crash, or if they can recommend a nearby hotel/capsule hotel/hostel.
– 11:25 – I send out a quick mass k-mailing to pretty much everyone in my address book, in case they might still be up, asking if they know anybody. No positive responses.
– 11:35 – She continues to explain the situation, how she doesn’t have her cellphone, and how these are friends from the US who are visiting, so they don’t have phones, either.
– 11:45 – She gives me the number for Rose, a friend in Niigata (her home prefecture) who has been helping her out a lot lately.
– 11:48 – I call Rose, explain the (rather strange) situation, and we start brainstorming–she suggests going to a police station and explaining what happened in really easy English, or going to a karaoke place or a manga cafe and renting out a box/cubicle for the rest of the night. I think of renting a room at a love hotel for a few hours. She also suggests catching one of those overnight trains that goes from Osaka to Hokkaido and would stop in their area, except that she wouldn’t be able to get to a train in time to get to Osaka before the trains stop running, and it may not be a good idea to move around so much this late and when she’s feeling so sick.
– 11:58 – I hang up with Rose and start IMing Alexa again–she’d already checked with a love hotel, and that’s out because you can only rent a room at one for 2 hours. But she starts considering the karaoke/manga ideas, though she wants to wait till Rose, who had a possible contact in Nara she could try to reach, calls me back.
– 12:00 – I continue to reassure Alexa that she isn’t at all imposing on us, that this is a crappy situation and we just want to make sure she’s doing okay.
– 12:03 – She explains that after her hospital visit, she went home and slept, but she overslept and left in a hurry to make her train, and in the process forgot her cellphone.
– 12:05 – She quotes Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a teabag–you never know how strong she is until you stick her in boiling water.”
– 12:10 – Rose calls me back and tells me that there’s a hotel attached to Nara Station, the Hotel Nikko Nara (a rather upscale chain), and they look to have a lot of open rooms. I’m guessing she couldn’t get in touch with the person, who she said she was in kind of a complicated situation in, plus he lives with his family, and…it’s just complicated.
– 12:15 – I pass this on to Alexa, who says that it looked dark and not open, but she’ll definitely consider it.
– 12:17 – I find info for them online and call them, and they say that they do indeed have double rooms open( ¥11,000, or around $100, but beggars can’t be choosers!), and she can check in if she wants.
– 12:22 – Alexa sends me the name of one of the friends she’s meeting, and the room number and phone number for where they’re staying. The phone number sets off warning bells in my mind…it has the 81 in front, which is the international calling code for Japan, and the area code provided doesn’t have a 0 in front of it, which is necessary when making domestic calls in Japan, though it’s rarely printed on websites, because when calling from abroad, you don’t use that 0. I ask her, and she says she dialed it with and without the 81, but doesn’t say anything about the 0.
– 12:23 – I google the number with the 0 and immediately pull up the website for her hotel.
– 12:24 – I call the hotel and talk to a gentleman, who searches for the friend’s name and can’t find it. I give him a super-basic rundown (her friends are there, she gave me this number, she’s supposed to be there too but can’t reach them), and he asks me for Alexa’s name, but can’t pull up either. In the process of all this, Alexa mentions via IM that the guy whose name she gave me is a fellow Georgia Tech alum.
– 12:29 – I tell her I didn’t have any luck with the hotel receptionist, and she tries to remember the name of the second person who’s there, the friend of her friend.
– 12:31 – I realize she gave me their room number! I then proceed to smack my forehead several times.
– 12:33 – Rose calls me back and tells me that she called the Hotel Nikko to check on their availability, and I fill her in on everything that’s happened. She wishes me luck, I apologize for keeping her up and she assures me that she’s “just chilling,” and we both find ourselves kind of laughing sympathetically at how insane this all has been.
– 12:35 – I call Alexa’s hotel again, right as she gives me an approximation of the other guy’s name, and I give the receptionist the room number, and he confirms that the reservation is indeed under the second guy’s name! The receptionist, who I’m now quite friendly with, patches me through, and I talk to Alexa’s friend, who sounds pretty bewildered, but immediately agrees to walk to the station and meet her.
– 12:42 – Alexa tells me that in her current state of health, she doesn’t think she can wait the 30-40 minutes it’ll take him to get to Nara Station, so she’ll just hail a cab.
– 12:43 – I call back and the friend’s still there, and I relay this and he agrees to go wait for her in the lobby.
– 12:47 – I give Alexa my phone numbers, in case something else goes wrong and she needs to call someone. She thanks me profusely, and signs off.
– 1:15 AM – my cellphone rings. I recognize the number on my cell as being from the hotel, and she greets me with an exhausted, embarrassed, but warm-sounding, “Hey, babe, I made it.” I order her to get a lot of sleep, and forget her friends if they try to make her wake up early.
And now, I’m off to get some sleep as well–thankfully, we aren’t meeting until the early afternoon for our final musical show, so I can still get a solid 8 hours of sleep. Whew! Good night, everyone.