Unexpected encounters

Have you ever encountered someone you haven’t seen in a while at the most unexpected place? When M came home from Japan last month, she ran into the grandmother of one of students/clients at Narita airport. Actually, she didn’t really run into her. M had forgotten to fill out some kind of form for the ANA and they had been paging her throughout the airport. Apparently the grandmother heard the name and deduced that they were going to be on the same plane home. Can you imagine M’s surprise when the grandmother came up to her in flight? Hi. Long time no see. I’m the kind who would have freaked out.

This seems to occur frequently within the “Japan” community–and probably in other Asian communities as well? I don’t necessarily mean Japanese Americans either. I have had students–who are not necessarily of Japanese heritage–who have met classmates randomly in Roppongi or Ginza in Tokyo. I met a student of mine from UCLA at a hardware store in Tokyo once. That was really weird. I even met a former elementary school-mate and boy scout patrol member on a bus in Mitaka. It was was really random so we celebrated by doing what most people do in Japan when they meet an old buddy: Get shit faced.

I had gone to visit a girl I used to date in Mitaka–near Kichijouchi–but she wasn’t home so felt rather rather sad. As I sat in the bus to the station on my way home, some called to me in English.

“Ray? Is that you?”

“JU? Woah1 What are you doing here?”

“I’m a ryuakusei at ICU.”

“Man, I haven’t seen you since when? Boy scouts? Karate?”

“About six years, I guess, huh.”

“Man, no shit.” Kinda lonely about not being able to see an old flame, I thought it would be fun to hang with JU, who was a couple of years younger than me. He was in the same patrol–the Firebirds–in our Boy Scout troop and we also took Shotokan Karate together at our church. “So what you doing now? Got a date? Going to work?”

“No, I was just going to go to the station and do some shopping.”

“Screw that. Let’s go to Shinjuku and get a drink. My treat.”

“Yeah, alright!”

Well, we went to Shinjuku and work our way to Takadanobaba, and found a small dive outside the station. We ate lightly but imbibed rather heavily in o-sake. I think we finished more than a bottle (one bottle = 1.8 liters)… I think. I don’t really remember much after reaching the bottom of the first bottle. What I do recall is paying 18,000 yen–pretty hefty for 24 years ago–and helping my friend throw up onto the tracks from the platform of the Chuo line. I sorta recall being warned by someone to take care of him as he seemed pretty bad off. I was pretty drunk, but I guess I can “appear” more sober… Anyway, I couldn’t send him back to school in this condition, so I brought him home… much to the displeasure of my cousin. Hahaha. He was really put out. Alvin is a really square dude; naive as naive gets–even in Tokyo–and he couldn’t wait to call Australia to report to my grandparents. All i could do was put my friend in a futon and let him sleep it off. Next morning, I wake up to find my cousn gone to school. I wake up with JU and he’s still groggy as hell, but he insisted that he had to go back to school, so I went with him as far as Mitaka Station to make sure he got on the right bus.

But the funniest random meeting I know didn’t involve me. Well, at least not directly.

Cont’d next post.

Query: Have you ever encounter someone you haven’t seen in ages in the most unexpected places?