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The website that never sleeps nearly did.
Welcome to The Moodie Davitt Report Interim Tokyo Bureau at the Hotel Yaenomori Tokyo. I’m typing this Blog into my trusty and often overworked Samsung laptop but I very nearly might not be.
Picture the scene. The Narita Express pulls into Tokyo Station with hundreds of passengers, including a certain exhausted travel retail publisher, onboard. They alight into the teeming mass of humanity that is this inner-city transport hub at evening rush hour.
But first, let’s rewind for a moment. After a 1am finish that morning in Hong Kong and a 5am rise, tiredness overcame me as I tried to work on the train into the city from Tokyo Narita Airport. I put my laptop down and fell into the sleep of the ages.
I awoke with a start, realising we had arrived at Tokyo Station and most of the passengers had already got off. Grabbing my bag, suitcase and duty free purchase from Duty Zero by cdf at Hong Kong International Airport, I dashed off the train and into the human bedlam.
Now to find my hotel. I reached into my bag to look up the details. And… well you know the rest. The hotel information was there alright but the laptop certainly was not.
A sudden sickening feeling descended, not made any more pleasant by the fact that I was in a facility I had never used before in a foreign country where English is not the native language.
Day 1 into a daunting 23-day business trip and a mountainous backlog of stories and a whole Andes-like range of vital material for the projects that lie ahead all housed neatly inside a laptop now making its way to some unknown destination and fate in Tokyo.
For a moment prospects of recovering it seemed between slim and none. And slim, like my train, had just left town. My worried look as I crouched over my bag must have told its own sad story of distress. And one that brought a guardian angel into my life.
“Can I help you? Is there something wrong?”
I told my story to the kindly woman who had stopped to help and she listened calmly.
“It might be ok,” she said. “The train will stop at Shinjuku, it’s not so far. Let me see what I can do.”
She (her name turned out to be Maki) sought out a station official and explained the situation. He nodded sagely while they engaged in Japanese.
“Ok come with me, there is a train to Shinjuku in 15 minutes,” Maki told me. “They have a lost property office there. Unless of course someone has taken it…”
The words hung in the air and did not bear contemplating. But this is Tokyo, one of the safest cities on the planet. Maki was hopeful.
“Are you ok to go there on your own?” she asked, before correcting herself and saying, “No I will take you.” And Maki did, despite being due home for dinner with her husband after a long day at work.
Duly we arrived at the lost property office on a platform at Shinjuku Station. Again, Maki explained herself. “What make is it?” she asked me, relaying the manager’s questions.
“Ah Samsung”, said the official, emotionless.
“Was it in a bag?” Maki asked, again translating.
“No bag, I have the bag,” I replied, pointing to the laptop-less container on my shoulder.
“Ah, no bag,” repeated the official, still taciturn. Things did not look promising. Suddenly he looked down at the desk in front of him, leaned forward and pulled out a black laptop bearing the unmistakable moniker Samsung.
“Is this your laptop?” he asked in perfect English.
My smile, perhaps wider than the Greater Tokyo Area, told him it was. After a swift identity check, I was reunited with an item more valuable to me than any watch, car or other material good could ever be.
On the way back to Tokyo Station I asked Maki for her details as I wanted to thank her properly. She was reluctant, saying it was all nothing, she simply liked to help people. I asked her what she did for a job, and she replied that she had worked part-time at Tokyo Station since 2019 in customer service. She had seen me looking concerned and had so come over to see if she could assist.
So this is a happy ever after story. But more importantly it is one of human kindness and the appearance against all odds of a guardian angel in my life. A part-time station worker who soared way, way above and beyond the call of duty to assist a foreign traveller in need. Thank you Maki Horie, I will never forget you.