Thursday, November 1

Japan Ichban (Number 1)

I gave the Japanese woman at the register a blank stare within my pause. I had gone into sticker shock when the cash register displayed the price of a simple serving of sushi. $17.87 for sushi, a bottle of water and a bottle of tea? However, I was already deep within her trap. I had ordered without checking the prices—the first error a traveler can make—and now, by the time I had learned the actual price, I couldn’t really negotiate because the woman at the register barely spoke English. The Hottest Smartest Coolest Girls I’ve Ever Dated (HSCGIED) was already back at our little table eating noodles and vegetables, so I could have just done without the $17.87 sushi and split that meal with her (hey, I paid for that one, too). But I was trapped. I couldn’t communicate with the woman and decided that since this was a semi-vacation and you only live once, I should just suck it up and enjoy the $17.87 frequent flyer miles I would collect from putting the purchase on my US Airways Visa Card.
We were at the food court at the San Francisco International Air Port. Purchasing sushi in the last American city I will see for a week had thrown me for a loop. This actual trip to Japan, to cover the final round of the Japan National Cross Country Series (Yup, JNCC) could prove much trickier. The race and the trip are guaranteed hits. The fine folks at the JNCC Series are reaching out to the GNCC people (Racer Productions, who I work for) to send three America-based racers to the final round of their series, the AAGP in Sugo. This exchange program has been happening in some form for years. Scott Summers and Randy Hawkins have raced here plenty of times, but now this event is a part of a more formal partnership between JNCC and GNCC (man, you have to see the big poster the Japanese produced last year with one of their guys shaking hands with Rita, with the caption “JNCC and GNCC!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
After that caption, there’s a bunch of Japanese text. And hearin lies the trouble. The races is going to go well. The JNCC has invited Charlie Mullins, Rodney Smith and Jason Raines to race, They have provided bikes and mechanics. The fans are pumped, even super pumped, on seeing the Yanks in action. And it’s my job to cover all of this, to let America know just how internationally recognized the stars of the GNCC Series are (do you know that last month we signed a contract to air the GNCC races on TV in 55 countries? One of them being KAZIKSTAN??) Yes, this series has grown very big, with racers from all over competing in it and fans from around the world wanting to see them.
Originally we wanted to send David Knight over, because a simple photo of him towering over people in downtown Tokyo would have basically sold the whole program, and my job would have been easy. But Knighter had a commitment to race elsewhere already. We now have Hot Rod Mullins, Raines and Rodney, which is awesome, but in order for me to track this week properly, I need to communicate with the world, and I’m not sure if I can.
Can I get the internet over there? Can I plug my computer into a wall outlet? Can I find a place to buy an adaptor if I can’t? Will I even be able to speak to anyone (me without talking is like Samson without hair).
We’ll see. For now I’m just going to study the exchange rate so I can figure out how much I’m paying for sushi. Hopefully it will go smoother than buying it in the U.S..