Yesterday, was my first awesome day here in Japan relative to how I feel like I fit into this place. Of course, I still stick out like a sore thumb and need to work on my Japanese but I had such an awesome experience today that it was a huge weight off my shoulders/sigh of relief like, “Oh, I can belong(ish).”
I went out to Blue St yesterday after checking on a quick issue at work and an awesome workout (don’t worried, I showered and changed!). I was on a mission to get a phone, likely an iPhone. I was using a pay-as-you-go flip phone that charges pretty high rates and has awful texting. I remember a few years ago how stupid I thought texting was and now? Text away my friends.
Blue St is the main street outside the gate that borders Hon-cho, or “The Honch.” The Honch is the easiest bar area to access right off base so there are a lot of people out most nights and this is where Shore Patrol hangs out. During the day, there are lots of little shops and people going in and out. Due to the proximity of the base, most of the service oriented shops (cell phones, housing agencies, internet) have English speaking workers.
Anyways, I went into a cell phone shop and a woman asked, “Can I help you?” It was Ayuko, my soon-to-be-BFF for the next hour. I had seen signs for “0 Yen” iPhones and asked her about them. Basically, it’s a lot like American contracts in that the phone is subsidized through the course of a 2-year contract. This is awesome b/c it meant I could sign up that day and not pay upfront like the Softbank counter in the NEX makes customers do. So instead of paying $600-$700 upfront for an iPhone, I get it for “free.” If I leave before Oct 2015 (and I better), I simply pay the # of months left x 1/24 of the price. So, I’ll end up paying ~$100 rather than the NEX price. Score!
|My other new BFF!|
So, I was pretty happy. You might be wondering why it took me so long in the first place? Well, I just couldn’t handle one more thing during Sept/early Oct. There was just so much on my plate I couldn’t muster up the mental energy to do an optional errand. Don’t worry- I was still showering and functioning on a pretty good level so no breakdown mode. I just needed a little time and space and Sept/early Oct just didn’t offer it for me.
I pulled out a little document holder so that I could store my phone documents away when Ayuko exclaimed, “JComm?!?!” The folder was from JComm, the internet company that covers my apartment. It turns out that AU, the company I went with for the phone service, and JComm are merged. She got very excited and said, “Let’s save some money.” She reviewed my JComm contract. She managed to upgrade my service, get the installation fee waived (5000 Y) AND get a 1400Y monthly discount on my cell phone bill! Awesome! It took awhile to get it all sorted out but I was really happy. I left and excitedly called SMS on Facetime and told him every boring detail (believe it or not, it’s the short version above!).
But you know why I’m happy? It’s not so much the money saved, although of course that’s nice. It’s the fact that someone was so willing to help. Being a foreigner unable to speak the language is just a set-up for getting ripped off and just generally feeling out of place. The fact that Ayuko offered great customer service and helped me out was such a welcome relief. I know, it’s technically her job to sell things and she was probably happy to sell an iPhone that day but it was so awesome that she went above and beyond for me.
And now SMS and I can call each other all the time! Awesome. I do need to figure out a way to attach a cell phone charm. Then I’ll really fit in!