Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Adventure Continues

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Saturday mornings on Okinawa are when I usually concentrate on getting my chores done that can't be accomplished during the work week.  This morning was busy as I putted from task to task in my little golden car.

The first stop was at my landlord's office - Dynasty or "Die Nasty" Housing, depending on how pissed I happen to be at them when I make one of my sporadic visits.  Today wasn't too bad.  I took in what I thought was my gas bill - which they pay.  Although I have taken this same piece of paper in for several months running, today they finally told me that it wasn't really a bill, just a statement as to how much the bill was going to be, and I could quit bringing it in because they receive the actual bill directly.  Better late than never with that tidbit, I suppose.  They must be getting tired of seeing me so often!

The second stop was at the Kadena Base Exchange (BX) where I was accosted in the parking lot by some industrious Boy Scouts who sold me a bag of caramel popcorn for twenty dollars!  Opportunities for kids to do things on this island are not as readily available as they are in the States so I felt the need to do my part - even if the Boys Scouts are a fascist organization who keep their gay members stashed in the closet!

Once inside the BX I visited the AU Telephone Company to see about getting a cell phone.  There are only two cell phone companies on the island.  The other is called Soft Bank, and that is who I had my original cell phone service with.  Soft Bank has crappy reception, so, after getting mad and cancelling my service with them several weeks ago, I decided that I would try AU this time.

There were three people working at the AU counter including one man who stayed silent and must have been some sort of office manager, one man who was loud and spoke decent English, and a very timid young Okinawan girl.  The girl must have been on the other two's shit list because they gave me to her.  Poor thing.

The sales girl (and she was just a girl)  spoke very limited English and what she did say was in a whisper.  Of course, the more she whispered, the louder I got.  (That's an American thing:  when you can't understand someone, speak louder.)  I told her I wanted the cheapest phone and the cheapest plan, fully realizing that  it could not possibly be that simple.  And it wasn't.  She showed me one phone that was "free," and then started tapping on her calculator to show me how much the free phone would cost.  She showed me a figure.  I told her that I didn't understand.  She tapped on her calculator again and showed me another figure.

Then came the questions.  Did I use internet?  Not on my phone.  How much text messaging would I need?  None, I don't text.  (That answer seemed to concern her greatly.)  Did I know the phone numbers of three friends for my "free" calls?

"Let me explain," I said as calmly as I could.  I want a telephone, a cheap telephone with a cheap plan!"

At that point the loud male who spoke English stepped forward to give the girl a break.  I asked him, as politely as I could, if they sold any telephones and plans without gimmicks.  "No, sir."  He replied.  I took a brochure and left, feeling as though I had won the day by not having a stroke in their store!

Next I strolled into the vendor's section of the BX just to look around.  There were many nice things out on display for holiday shopping.   I stopped at a little incense stand and purchased a box of Nag Champa - a stick of which is incensing my living room as I type.  (Molly and Millie, I'm thinking of you!)

With my holiday shopping finished and in the mail, and realizing that I bought myself a total of two postcards while in Korea, I decided to explore a few more shops and see if I could find something for myself.  Some friends at work are talking about establishing a "game" night - which served as my excuse to buy a really sweet Maj Jong set.  The mamasan who sold it to me, an elderly Okinawan lady who lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for several years with her GI husband, was so excited to make the sale that she gave me a very nice lady's fan for my "wife."

Lunch was at the Burger King in the BX Food Court, and then I headed south.  I stopped at Lester Hospital to pick up insulin syringes only to learn that I would have to come back Monday.   From Lester it was on south another mile to Camp Foster, where, for the first time since I have been frequenting the place, Gate 4 was closed.  I had to find another way into the base - which I did - and then reported to Gunner's Fitness Center where I marched on the evil treadmill for one hour = 3.55 miles.  My final stop was also at Camp Foster at their Post Exchange (PX) where I was after a small filing cabinet and some file folders.  They had several cabinets, but no letter-sized folders.  I wound up making do with something else.

I took a different Gate out of Camp Foster and managed to quickly get lost.  I toured the city of Chatan for about fifteen minutes until I finally worked my way back to Highway 58, just blocks from my apartment.

I plan to spend the rest of the day recuperating from my Saturday morning adventures - recuperating and doing laundry!

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