Nothing really gets you out of bed faster than your cat leaving skid marks on your sheets.
While readers will be relieved to hear such stubborn stains are only a precursor story to this post, they do explain why I was still at home waiting for the washing machine to finish at 9:45 am. There are somethings that can wait until the weekend. Then there are others that really can't.
Since I knew the garbage truck beetled around to my apartment complex at around 10, I gathered up the appropriate bag of sorted recyclables and headed downstairs. The rain was pouring down and made my slippers wet. This was quite sad.
What would turn out to be even sadder was that I'd left my keys in my apartment and the door to the building locks automatically.
Standing in the foyer, I reviewed my options. Unfortunately, the only people I knew in the building had moved at the end of last year and I had never dared engage my neighbours in chitchat. This was because the extent of my Japanese conversation would portray me as an extremely boring individual with an obsession regarding the weather. I had therefore taken the shrewd tactic of not opening my mouth when in company, thereby leaving the possibility that I might yet be a functioning member of this society. Unfortunately, my current situation rather revealed the truth of the matter.
Arguably, my limited vocabulary skills did still allow me to portray my problem. I could type in a random apartment number to the intercom and explain that I lived in the building but I had forgotten my key and been locked outside. Such an exchange had multiple possible outcomes:
(1) The people I called would take pity on me and buzz me through the door
(2) They would not understand my Japanese
(3) They would think I was secretly trying to rob the place and likely to end up stealing their dog.
The problem was that even with (1), I would be frozen with indecision about what to do next. If I was let inside, should I go to the poor apartment I had disturbed and thank them? This would require further conversation with the chances of severe awkwardness and mutual pain rising exponentially for every second such communication persisted.
Alternatively, (3) was quite likely since if they asked me any questions I wasn't expecting (such as "do you like dogs?") I'd probably be completely thrown and just jibber something that sounded like an intent of burglary.
Then not understanding my own Japanese as in (2) was perhaps the most likely, mainly because my language skills suck but also partly because of this:
Moreover when it comes to language communication, phones are bad. Unsolicited Intercoms are probably worse.
I would likely have more success if I could actually see someone face-to-face but living in a building of respectable people, they had all departed for work hours ago.
Just as I was wondering if I could prise the door open with my teeth while simultaneously avoiding the CCTV camera lens, the elevator slid open. A girl about my own age appeared on the other side of the glass, but rather than coming towards me (and thereby allowing me to slide through with a reassuringly fake nod), she headed for the building's back door.
In panic, I banged on the glass and after a minute she reappeared. I pulled an apologetic face and she came towards me, triggering the door to automatically slide open.
"I'm sorry!" I burst out in Japanese. "I forgot my key!"
The result of this was her starting to laugh; a reassuring response since I had thought I might have needed to produce a far more detailed explanation. However, the sight of me coatless and wearing slippers in a downpour was evidently proof enough of my sorry tale.
After thanking her 101 times (using exactly the same word but changing the tense for an attempt at variety), I scuttled towards the elevator.
Back in my apartment, my cat was having a wash.
"Too little, too late," I informed her.