Lost-and-Found

Everyone hopes his/her travel not to be too much eventful and wishes things go smoothly as planned.
But in reality people could encounter pick-pocketing, lose one's credit card, or one's passport stolen.
In my trip to Japan last year, my hiking boots were stolen, for example.
Usually such experience leaves me a bitter taste.

I had another such event in this trip. My experience this time, however, is somewhat different.

Here is an excerpt from my travel journal:

What an amazing emotional rollercoaster experience I had this evening.
After I turned in mother's reimbursement application to a local government office, I went back to Ashiya (my cousin's house) so that mother's bank books and seals were placed back in the safe and my personal stuff were not left in a up-stair room (of my cousin's house).

I had three bags including a tote bag that held sweets for staffs at Hanayama (my mother's "home").
I somehow forgot to pick up my large duffle bag (see the photo below) when I got off from the bus.
I didn't realize my mistake until I started unloading my stuff at the second floor of my mother's home. Understandably I was panicked as the bag contained things I needed to continue my trip as well as my brand new winter hiking boots and Ikebana gears.

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A lady in the home called to find out the number to contact for city bus' left-and-found and she called the number for me. Unfortunately I was told that there was no good means to locate things left in a bus on the same day. The common procedure is that things left on a bus are collected at the end of the service and are delivered to a city bus' service station. Upon receiving an inquiry next day or after, those items are checked against and returned to the owner if verified.

I was afraid that my bag would be lost forever if the bag was unattended for hours. So I thought I should do something to catch my bag before too late.
I thought I could catch the same bus if I run fast to Maruyama bus depot as buses for the route were looping back to the bus depot after visiting quite a few bus stops.

I dashed to the outside just carrying my jacket, which held my wallet in a pocket. I run to the bus depot and there were still several minutes before the next bus and thought that was the bus I took, although I couldn't rule out the possibility that the bus I took was one service earlier. There were quite frequent bus services provided for the route.

The next bus was somehow delayed for almost 10 minutes or so, which is not uncommon but unusual. The bus services in Japan are usually very punctual. Anyway, the bus arrived and I explained to the bus driver and checked the bus inside but didn't find my bag.

Dammit! It must be one service earlier. I thought I could catch the one service earlier bus if I would use a taxi. So, I decided to catch a taxi as I saw some vacant taxis earlier. Well, it took more minutes than I thought before I could catch the next taxi. Anyway, I finally caught a one, I explained my situation to the taxi driver asking him to catch two services earlier bus for this route. It was a bus chasing!

However, it didn't go as some movies had shown despite that the driver was very sympathetic to me and tried his best. We were stopped at many intersections because of traffic lights and not many occasions available for the driver to pass cars in front of him (most roads we ttok were 1-lane wide for each direction).

We couldn't catch the bus before arriving at the final terminal. We could have caught the bus if we went to the final terminal directly (instead of following the bus route). But that was a thought after everything was over.
I think the taxi driver felt pity on me (and he didn't have enough changes for a large bill). He turned off the meter before dropping me off. That gave me some discount and I didn't need to break a large bill.

I rushed to one of depots where the buses from the route would arrive. I asked drivers of several buses there but none of them was not the one I was looking for. A driver suggested I should call the left-and-found, which was the common procedure and I knew earlier. I asked if any service in this terminal where I can seek help in person. The driver replied me that there was a service desk in this terminal and pointed me to the direction.

The service desk was easily found and there was an old lady was there. The service desk was adjacent to a bus drivers' break room or something so that continuously bus drivers were coming in and out. I explained my situation to the lady mentioning that I left my bag in a bus and the approximate time I got off from the bus at the depot, which is not far from my mother's home.

She checked the bus schedules and identified the bus possibly I took. She explained me that nobody in this place including bus drivers know where the bus was currently. Bus driver knows his bus service schedule but beyond his service, it is not what he needs to know. The bus may continue to another service with another bus driver or may return to a service station for service (I assume it for clean up and gas refill). Those bus dispatch schedules were arranged by a group at the service station and only people in the group could find out whereabouts of a particular bus.

She called the a person in the service station who could figure out whereabouts of the bus. She explained my situation to him. She later asked me to talk to the person directly. He suggested me to leave a number to reach so that they can call once such bag was found.

I didn't want to wait till next day and I didn't have any handy number to use. So I insisted I would wait in this service desk until the bus was identified and determined if my bag was there or not. I think he hated (or annoyed by) me as that was not a common procedure to follow.

He said he would check and would call back to the service desk if he found out something.
The lady asked me to calm down and told me it would take time but she ensured that he would surely call back.
It was not easy for me to calm down as it would be very hard to continue my trip and carry out my planned schedules without the stuff in the bag.

While waiting him to call back, I decided to find out the phone number of my mother's place (I didn't bring anything with me except my wallet). I needed to update people at mother's place eventually as they didn't know where I was and when I would be back. The lady at the service desk helped me to find the number using phone books, old way. It took awhile but got the number.
Waited another 15 minutes or so but he didn't call me back. The lady at the service station said she would call him again if she didn't get call after another 3 or 5 minutes. No call coming in from him so she called. According to her, they didn't hear no responses to his inquiry through wireless (not cell phone but CB radio, I think).

I pressed him again asking the whereabouts of the bus although I started to doubt that I could ever see my bag and I may need to leave my mother's place's number for them to reach me when the bag ever showed up.
Not many minutes after the previous call, probably 5 minutes or so, he did call us back. From the conversation I overheard, it seemed the bag was located (although I was not sure at that time). After she hung up the phone, she explained me that a driver found the bag but it won't be available to pick up at the service station, which was 15 minutes or so bus ride from there, until around 8 pm. I said I would be happy to wait, even overnight, if I could surely get my bag back. She handed me a copy of bus service schedule for the route that would take me to the service station where I could retrieve my bag.

I asked her where I could find a public phone as I finally felt that I needed to call my mother's place to update my situation as I now had a rough estimate when I could get back there.
The lady asked me if I had a phone card, which I didn't as I used up mine, and lent me her phone card saying it was okay for me to use for she would rarely use. Most Japanese people have their cell phones with them and probably her words were true. Even though it was very nice as I needed to make small changes to make a call for I used up smaller bills for my taxi ride.

After returning the phone card, I immediately went to a nearby bakery store, fortunately the service desk was located on the first floor and there were many stores at its underground level and I knew there was a bakery among them. I bought an apple pie and deliver to the lady at the service station as a thank-you token. She seemed surprised or unexpected saying she just did what she was supposed to do. I said I was very grateful what she did to me and this was nothing.

Bus services to the service station were less frequent than other routes. But it was enough for me to get there before 8pm.
The service station was in front of a bus depot. There were still another 30 minutes or so before 8pm and was wondering which one was the entrance I should use. A young lady just happened to come to the service station and seemed to have a business with the building. So I asked her if this was the right entrance to use to pick up things from lost-and-found. She showed me the way and informed the people inside why I was here.

A guy in the building asked me to wait at a chair at a corner till the bus arrived. Bus drivers were coming back from their assignments and reported the completion of their services. Well before 8pm a bus driver with a familiar duffle bag walked in. I immediately approached him and showed him my ID. Very fortunately, I attached a tag to the bag and the tag had my name and the address. So, there was no hassle to reclaim my bag. I also signed a form but that was more for formality.

I realized that the bus I took went on to another service and my bag was unattended for probably two to three hours but nobody stole it. Even a person didn't know hiking boots, which can be sold at a second-hand store for a good money, are inside, a large duffle bag itself can be a good money. I would think a bag would have been gone if unattended for hours if this were in the US.

I think I was able to retrieve my bag because I correctly identified the bus I took. The lady at the service counter told me that quite often people come to seek his/her lost items and failed or mis-identified the bus the person took.
This was a pleasant end even I spent taxi money and hours in the evening. And this was quite the opposite of what I experienced last summer, which a guy stole my hiking boots not because he needed them for money but just because he didn't want to use his rain-soaked hiking boots.

This experience reminds me of a proverb, "All's well that ends well."

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