Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rebel Survival During the Great Japanese Earthquake of 2011: Part One The Inital Quake

To says that things here in Tokyo are tense is an understatement. The nation of Japan has been though one of the worst disasters in recorded history. We here in Tokyo have been damn lucky not to experience the horror up north. There has been a lot of confusion here in Tokyo but no looting and violence is very low. For the most part people have been chill. Problems are mounting but so far we are getting by. The Japanese government is trying to keep the capital city going for as long as possible; which is a good idea considering Tokyo is the heart of Japanese culture and government. Beside slight shortages of gas food and power, Tokyo is stable.

Yet, yall might be wondering what a hill billy like myself does to survive during a crisis like this. A proper rebel worth his metal should know what to do when shit hits the fan. I am no different in this fact.

When the quake went down I was actually scoring some bread(working). It was just another strange day in Tokyo. I showed at the Kamata branch ready to make some sales and teach some lessons. I was going full steam that day. Had been able to get a few students to take extra lessons that day. I was feeling pretty damn good as a `professional.` It all started while I was teaching a group of three older ladies. About 15 minutes into a lesson the shaking started. It was light at first. After 30 seconds it started to rattle the entire building. That is when we all took cover. The entire building was rocking and rolling. It was like being on one of those damn drop zone rides at carnivals;up and down, bouncing, rattling and not knowing when it was going to be over. There was a moment when I thought I was going to die. Yet, I did not pray to god or anything like that. I only thought of my wife. I remember having her smiling face in my mind. I closed my eyes and could only see her. I was ready to die. Then everything stopped.

I opened my eyes and realized I was alive. For a few seconds everything was silent. It took my brain a little time to realize what had just happened. There was little time to think as everyone at the branch started freaking out. I went into survival mode. My mind started operating at a level I did not think I had in me. I ordered everyone out of the building. It did not take much convincing because everyone had the same thing in mind. Everyone gathered what they had on hand and chucked it down the emergency stairs. Once outside we just kind of stared around at all the confusion and chaos going on around us. Several people gathered with us because they knew we were NOVA and was something familiar to rally around. I lit a smoke and took a step back. The students spoke to me a little bit but it was clear their minds were racing. I pretty much remained speechless for most of the first hour. I was trying to process what was going on around me and develop a plan.

After some time all the students left. It was just me and two staff left to fend for ourselves. They were scared and confused. The male staff wanted to stick to his guns and start working again. I convinced both of them to at least go with me to the train station and pick up a little information. So off to the station we went. The station was chaos but there were some TV`s at one of the shops showing the news. We saw with shock the images on the screen. The nation had fallen into chaos. The earthquake and tsunami damage kind of made me numb emotionally. Seeing that the building our was branch in was fine, we decided to go back to the building for safety. The gal working with us only lived 15 minutes away so we sent her home for the day.  The male staff and I headed back to the branch. We watched streaming news via internet considering that no students were showing up. The footage we saw of the tsunami was shocking to say the least. We were like deers in headlights staring at the computer screen. It was a lot to take in all at once. After a while we stopped watching because it was too much to bear.

Once we gave up on the news be decided it was time to eat something. We were not hungry but we just wanted to get the butterflies out of our stomachs. I went to the nearest convenience store, and liquor store, to grab a few things. We ate like starved hounds and got a few stiff drinks in us. Attempting to be professionals we waited until work was `officially` over and stepped outside for the stiff drinks. It really helped our nerves believe me. At that point we got a call from one of our company offices near by offering to take us in for the night. If yall don`t know Kamata is a pretty fucked up part of Tokyo. Not the kind of place you want to camp out in an office for the night. We accepted the offer and off we went.

I had to lead the staff a lot though this entire process. He was still a mess of nerves and lacked any amount of patience what so ever. Yet, I had to get him to a safe place so I paid no mind to his complaints for the time being. Our goal was Oimachi  which was three stations from Kamata; so off we went. I started out by taking back streets close to the train tacks. GPS systems were not working correctly by cell phone so we had to track our progress the old fashioned way by using line of sight. I knew that back streets could be dangerous but it seemed like a good idea at the time. My original plan seem to be working at first. We had a direct line of sight to the train tracks for a good 1/3 of the journey. Yet, after a while it became harder and harder to maintain a good view of the tracks. The staff was getting harder to deal with as well. He started complaining a bit too much for me to handle. Eventually I stopped and said to him, `Look you are going to have to stop being part of the fucking problem and start being part of the solution motherfucker.` He was taken back by my words to put it lightly. It was at that point I decided to start walking on the train tracks directly. Of course the staff did not want to do this. He resisted and I gave him the option of going the rest of the way by himself or following me. He choose to follow me. He chilled out for most of the rest of our journey.

After traveling on those dark desolate tracks for a good hour, mostly in total silence, we finally arrived at Oimachi. The staff made a bee line for the office. I had never seen any Asian be so happy to see another Asian in my entire life. When we arrived at the office and I instantly felt a hell of a lot better. Kamata staff jumped at the chance to communicate with the Oimachi staff. It was like watching an odd sort of family reunion. Yet, my greatest relief came when I discovered another teacher on hand; and he was American! I was so happy to be with someone from my own culture. We instantly clicked like blood brothers. I got him to go outside with me and we spent several hours getting drunk on the corner and shooting the shit. We got pretty hammered and passed out warm, safe and drunk in the office later.

And that my friends was day one...         

1 comment:

just me said...

so... i found your blog a couple of days ago. wanted to say i like it. that's all. :)