Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Spring Break! Part the Seventh: Living in Providence

I have always lived in the absolute confidence that everything happens for a perfect purpose. One might argue that this is because nothing truly horrible or evil has ever happened to me. I have not earned the right to deny this. I am certain however that “what evils may come” will not shake me from confidence in my Creator and my King. In the mean time, I enjoy observing the pieces falling into place, some in a matter of minutes and others over the course of years. While it is no doubt the lifelong processes that fashion the deepest impressions in this education we call life, it is the micro-episodes that give us the clearest understanding of what is happening to us in infinity. The incident I am about to relate may be a very, very small matter, but it illustrates why unfolding crises do not cause me to pull my hair out. I was scheduled to depart Sapporo on the 9:15 bus on Sunday morning. I had already missed Easter service the previous week because I was traveling, and I was sorry to be missing church again. Fellowship with fellow believers is crucial to spiritual wellbeing, and prioritization that jettisons church attendance first for the sake of convenient time management can become a life quenching policy. That morning Yuko and I enjoyed a quiet breakfast at Starbuck’s, secure in our assumption that since I had debussed at Sapporo Station, I would also be able to board there. We then made our way to the station’s underground bus terminals a little early, only to discover that the bus for Hakodate only boards passengers at Sapporo’s central bus terminal. Yuko’s quick time assessment dictated that I should run upstairs and grab a taxi. After Yuko was certain that the taxi driver understood which bus terminal he was supposed to take me to, we said our hasty farewells and I started looking at my watch. It was getting really hot, but I kept my jacket on since I was already carrying a big sports bag, my laptop, and a bag of omiyage (obligatory gifts for my coworkers). With about ten minutes to spare the taxi driver pulled up to an obscure entrance to an even more obscure bus terminal and began a longwinded explanation of how he thought that this was probably the bus terminal I wanted, but that he wasn’t certain and he might be wrong. I was feeling fairly hot and bothered by this point and made haste to politely disengage from his verbal services as quickly as possible. The bus terminal he spoke of, when I finally found it, was largely deserted. I asked the only bus driver in the place where I could find the bus terminal that I was really supposed to be at. After inflicting me with various pieces of unsolicited information he finally suggested that I wanted the bus terminal across the street. “Across the street” turned out to be across six lanes of traffic and a park, but somehow I found myself at the right place with five minutes to spare. And, what do you know, I was the first person to board! That’s when I discovered that my laptop was missing. After weighing the situation (which took a bit of time, since I was hot, sweaty, and out of breath) I decided that I could not leave town without my laptop and sadly informed the bus driver that I would not be able to ride his bus after all. He was very sympathetic, and when I asked him if it was possible for me to change my time of departure he gave me back the two pieces of my ticket and suggested I talk to one of the ladies at the ticket window. When I asked the lady at the window if I could get a new ticket issued the answer was yes (which is odd, because to the best of my knowledge the ticket was non-changeable/non-refundable), but she needed me to tell her what time to make it for. After some more internal deliberation I decided on the same time the next day, since there was already no way for me to catch a ferry that would get me to Shimokita in time for work on Monday. As I turned away from the window with my new bus ticket and the phone number for Sapporo’s central taxi authority I was greeted by a taxi driver holding my laptop. My taxi driver! Apparently he had finally figured out which bus station I was supposed to be at. I immediately returned to the ticket window, but the nice lady informed me that my bus was already two minutes into its journey. Oh well. I thanked the taxi driver for the laptop and called Yuko to ask her to come pick me up again. The end of the story is that I got to spend an extra twenty-four hours in Sapporo. I was able to attend the church’s fifth anniversary celebration, meet lots of interesting people, spend a great afternoon with Anna (since Yuko was at a meeting and Jun was at work), and enjoy another lovely evening with Yuko. The extra twenty-four hours proved to be a wonderful closure to a great week, and in the end it only cost me a ¥600 taxi ride instead of a $2,000 laptop. Actually there are lots of other details, like my also losing my bag of omiyage and finding it again, and my boss not minding at all that I wasn’t going to show up to work on Monday, but this story is getting way, way too long, much longer than I expected, and I’m going to cut it off right here.

I think that the top left map may imply the truth that one cannot board the bus for Hakodate at the Sapporo Station bus terminal.