Our story today begins in Barajas airport and the hour-long line for baggage drop off. There are a few details to this trip that might be a bit different from usual, as there is one more factor to take into account. Something that has never flared up on this journal is my chronic pain, which may or may not be fibromyalgia (we go with that for now, because it is never Lupus, and we don’t want to go into the possibility of ALS, not just yet). That makes it difficult to move and to do certain things. The greatest pain I have, or at least the most unmanageable one, is my right wrist, which at the moment warrants a 250€ wristbrace (affectionately known as the exoskeleton) and sometimes a sling.
Even though there are now direct Madrid-Tokyo flights, I booked via London, for a reason – well, actually almost 400 reasons, I’m sure you get my meaning – and direct return flight. Thus I had Iberia and British Airways flights for the leaving trip, and Iberia for the return. Somehow, British Airways told me I was able to buy my seat, but it assigned me one. I think this was because the check in defaulted via Iberia, who keep saying that they have no control over the aircraft British Airways use, so they can’t assign a seat.
So I tried to get a decent seat where I could actually manoeuvre with my wristbrace and my sling, which ended up causing the whole mess. Somehow, after a bunch of calls and emails, my check-in was effective in Iberia, since I had my boarding passes, but somehow not in British Airways – as I was denied entry into London Heathrow intercontinental area until someone punched some stuff on a computer.
Guess what this means? No? Well, it means that I made it to Tokyo Haneda – albeit we were delayed – but my luggage did not. Joy.
(Shout out here to the personnel in Madrid Barajas and London Heathrow for their helpfulness and attentiveness throughout the whole process too, and helping out when I could not move so well).
Anyway, I disembarked in Haneda, and headed off to the luggage belt only to see my name on a small whiteboard. And here we headbutt with the whole Japanese-ness for starters. Superpolite and superineffective ladies wanting me to give them a lot of details on my suitcase while unable or unwilling to answer the simple question of “Is it lost or is it in London?”. They did not know where it was, but they could tell me when it would come via Kuroneko, somehow explaining about the typhoon impacting delivery service. Well, when an airline loses your baggage, they are supposed to explain that you have some rights. For example, the right for them to compensate you for stuff you have to buy. I got none of this. Neither did I get the reference number I was supposed to get nor my receipts, but for some reason I needed to leave them the key – in case customs decided they had to open the suitcase. I tried to prod them about buying things but they would not bulge, they just wanted the paperwork filled and me out of their way.
So guess what?
That meant that I had been awake for roughly 24 hours and now I had to go shopping. For everyday clothes. In Japan. Instead of going to EfficientTime’s place and get a shower, which is what I wanted – and the only thing I could think of was the big Uniqlo in Ikebukuro. So Ikebukuro here I come.
Let’s be honest here, for as much as a disaster this could have been – It wasn’t. I had all my money with me, had not packed any, and I did not have pressing stuff that required special clothes. As someone pointed out, if this had happened the year of Gackt’s birthday party I would have died. But it was not really fun, having to spend the first afternoon looking for XL clothes in Uniqlo and Sunshine City. In the end I found enough stuff to survive two or three days and headed off to EfficientTime’s apartment to have my shower, change into new clothes and then get some dinner. And sleep. Cuz sleeping is a thing.
I think one of the T-shirts I bought perfectly illustrates the situation: