So, a month or so ago, I volunteered to help out with this year's Christmas Lecture in Japan.
They needed a vegan and (sometimes I think that) I am the only one living in Japan.
All I had to do was pull four hairs from my head, alow them to be tested,
stand in front of an audience of thousands of eager Japanese school children
while holding a card with a number on it,
sit and watch an honestly interesting lecture,
and later return to the stage to turn around my numbered card
and reveal the fact that the tests were correct, and I am, in fact a "vegan".
Oh, and I also "had to" travel to Yonago
and spend some time with a group of wonderful and interesting people.
They paid for my flight and one night's stay in a very nice hotel
and a lovely vegan dinner at a party with all of the aforementioned people.
I was treated like a VIP, all because when put through a mass spectrometer
you can see that my hair is quite different from the meat eating population at large.
It ended up being a perfect break in the go-go-go that is currently consuming my life.
While I was out there we did a (very) little hike, and played a fantastic game of cards.
But the real highlight was my getting lost on the way to the airport.
I caught the wrong bus, but I was unaware until the bus driver pulled into the bus station,
and I realized that there weren't any airplanes around.
I asked him if this bus was headed towards the airport, and he told me that I was way off.
He explained to me what I needed to do
(which involved waiting an hour for the very same bus to head back where I started,
so that I could wait another hour until the bus I needed took off from that point.)
He then told me that it was hot, so I should go inside the "bus staion".
Which was one tiny tatami room, with a TV and another bus driver inside it.
They both seemed quite entertained by the fact that
a)I look Japanese, but do a terrible job trying to speak it and
b)The fact that I was lost.
They were both really sweet, and made sure I was comfortable.
They gave me fresh watermelon to eat, and black sugar candy to put in my purse for later.
They asked me all sorts of questions, and laughed at my jokes.
But, the BEST part, was watching as the bus driver magically changed before my eyes
from a grumpy, jaded man, to a smiling, caring, friendly one. It was amazing.
Later he took me back to the station, and when I got off the bus, he made sure I knew which platform to wait at.
Just before my bus finally came, he had pulled up again for his next round at that station.
I looked through the big bus windows and saw that it was him, and he saw that I was me, and we both laughed.
He then waved me over to come to talk to him. I did, and he quizzed me on what bus I should be taking.
A few minutes later, my bus pulled up,
but before it did, I watched as my bus driver friend called the new bus driver guy over,
and talked and smiled with him, while pointing over at me.
People started getting into my bus, and my friend got out of his bus, walked over,
and made sure I got onto the right one this time.