I was in Japan with my mother. We visited beaches with strange mechanisms – in an area that shrank itself like a funnel, there was a sort of metal net in the shape of an arch – this arch had two extremities made of sieved metal, and it filtered water and sediments at the beach, to prevent the water from advancing over the roads, where there were many cars passing, along the coast. It was as if the water wanted to always get out of the place where it “should” be, the wet area designated by men, and that arch-net contraption was there only to keep the water in its appropriate place.
There were multilevel elevators and staircases and escalators – not only to go up and down, but also to go laterally from one place to the other, and diagonally, and all other possible directions at the same time. I was afraid, for there was a huge agglomeration of people around these means of transportation and I couldn’t find my brown bag, which was with my mother. There were hallways and hallways full of people stuck in lines to enter the multilevel elevators and escalators, so I decided to look for my mother from a high place – surely I would be able to recognize her and my brown bag, where all of our documents were – the local people all dressed in the same black suit, carrying black executive briefcases, the women with the same serious medium-length black haircut and the men all with the same short black hair as well. So my mother with her auburn hair would ideally be easy to find. I found her quickly, but not the bag. I thought we might have been robbed, and that it would have been be typical me to be robbed in one of the safest and allegedly more civilized countries in the world. But then I remembered there were stories about people who had lost their belongings in Japan and returning to the place where they had left them, even days later, the objects were in the same place.
With renewed hope, I returned to the city to look for my bag. Finally I found it, but it was in the middle of a sort of convention of young hairdressers. It was a meeting of young learners and masters in dying, bleaching, highlighting and other hair cosmetic procedures, and the masters were there to teach the students how to do them properly. I knew that, in order to be able to get my bag back inconspicuously, I would have to participate in the workshop. As my guinea pig, I got a woman with very long hair in various shades of blonde, and my task was to make her hair all the same light blonde tone. It was much more difficult than it looked and I failed miserably. I didn’t care much about that, for I was more interested in my brown bag. I got it back and checked it to see if everything was there. There were no documents missing, but my debit and credit cards were all messed up.
I decided then to go to a huge mall full of sweets and candy shops. I entered one of the stores and it was madness, trying to pick just one was so difficult; the sweets all looked extremely tasty and delicious, but I chose a set of cakes in the shape of balls, one on top of the other, each ball a different flavor. I started to eat before seeing the price and I saw that it was super expensive – US$ 6.90 each little ball cake. The whole set had six or seven of them. I decided to throw all caution away once and for all and I ended up buying several cakes and chocolates, some from Swiss or Italian brands, with crunchy wafer and soft chocolate; others with natural fruits and organic chocolate; and countless other bonbons and pralines. In the end, the check was US$ 215.90. I had just withdrawn 300 dollars from an ATM but that was to pay for something else, so I decided to pay with credit card. The problem was that I couldn’t find it in my bag. I searched for it desperately but to no avail. The salesman was very understanding and told me to come back to the store and pay for my purchase as soon as I had found my credit card.
Outside the store I continued to search, asking others for help. When I finally managed to find my card, I went to the store to pay what I owed. The salesman, however, was another one, and he didn’t know the correct value of my purchase. He tried to charge me 350 dollars more than what I owed, but I didn’t pay. I told him to verify the invoice, to check the computer sales record, and to talk to the other salesman who was there before him. He couldn’t find the invoice or any record of the purchase in the computer, so I just stayed there waiting for the nice salesman to come back and solve my problem.