Stephen versus the Japanese Apartment Key Part I

So, as I’ve made perfectly clear in just about every post before this one, my life in Japan’s been pretty cushy and awesome thus far.  While the weather’s been cold, it hasn’t been unbearable and, while my utility bills haven’t been cheap, I’m not really spending my money on much else at this point.  That all being said, a few days ago, I had my first Japanese horror story experience (aside from the unfortunate choking baby in the classroom experience, of course), an experience that I shall share with you as follows.  This is the story of the new David and Goliath:  Me and my apartment’s faulty door system.

#@$$ you, mother#!$$er!

#@$$ you, mother#!$$er!

As most anyone who knows me can tell you, I am among the most unorganized, scatterbrained klutzes you will ever meet, somehow skirting the line between being a functional member of society and being one of those people that winds up being on TLC for hoarding newspapers or whatever.  Thus, it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I made it halfway back to my apartment from my office before I realized that I left my key sitting in the pocket of my sports coat (I like to leave one of my suits jackets at the office so I don’t have to wear one walkign to and from work everyday- I know, I’m lazy.  Deal with it.).  On any normal day, this would probably mean that I would be S.O.L right there and then as the office would have been locked up and the back entrance to the entire building shuttered for the night (Things tend to close reallllllly early in the not-Tokyo or Osaka parts of Japan).  As luck would have it, however, it was a Saturday, meaning I got to leave the office a half-hour earlier than most of my co-workers, meaning that I managed to slink back into the office and retrieve my key before the school manager shut things down for the night.

I bet at this point most of y’all are wondering what the big deal is with all this.  “Why is this even a blog post, Stephen?” you ask, one furtive brow furrowed in disgust at the minute of your time wasted on the previous two paragraphs.  “You got your key back before you got locked out of your office, dude.  What’s the big deal?”

The answer: Yes, I got my key.  But that didn’t prevent me from getting locked out of my apartment anyways.  You see, this being ultra-modern Japan, my apartment company couldn’t just settle for a normal phallic shove-it-in-and-turn key like the rest of the world.  No, they had to go all twenty-first century on our asses and equip each and every one of the apartments in their vast empire (some 60,000 rooms in all) with a hotel-style key-card system.  Sure this sounds cool and dandy on paper but, as anyone who has ever stayed at a hotel with a guy at the front desk who isn’t a meth-head can tell you, key-cards maybe the single faultiest product of human innovation since Caveman Jack invented the square wheel.  Seriously, for something created to make locking and unlocking things easier, having to re-insert your key-card twenty times until the door finally registers it and lets you inside sure is time consuming.  But since this is ultra-modern Japan (the 1980’s version of the future), they couldn’t just stop there.  No, my apartment lock combines the best of both words: electronic key coding AND turning things.  In other words, my door is malfunction/ pain-in-the-ass paradise as I unfortunately found out on Saturday.

I got home around 7:30, my innocence still intact, blissfully unaware of the ordeal to follow.  My first attempt at opening my door was met with mild amusement.  “Must’ve put the key in the wrong way,” I mumbled to myself, still thinking about what I wanted to eat for dinner.  So I tried it again.  And again.  By that point, I was pretty damn sure I was sticking the stupid piece of crap in there the way the apartment people had told me to.  Maybe I just wasn’t putting the key in fast enough.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

So I tried again.  And again.  And again.  Panic began to set in.  Even though it was below freezing outside, I could feel the nervous sweat welling up in my pores.  Where could I go?  What could I do?  It was a Saturday, was the apartment company even open on the weekends?  How about a place to stay?  Was I going to have to break the bank to get a hotel room for the night?  With the Kairakuen Plum Festival season in full bloom was there even going to be a room available.  Doomsday scenarios poured through my head lift mental diarrhea.  I was screwed, S.O.L.

Thankfully, that was the point where my hoarder tendencies finally came through.  (See mom?  I told you me keeping every single scrap of paper ever given to me would pay off one day!)  Buried deep within the recesses of my book bag was a crumpled copy of my initial lease agreement and on it my potential salvation: the phone number of the company’s national trouble line.

Maybe, just maybe, I’d be sleeping in my own bed after all.  Hope sprang eternal once again.



But, as with everything, life had a few more dog turds to throw in my path…



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