My last trip to Wakayama Prefecture having gone so well, the CG kindly saw fit to invite me to go with him for a second visit. Seems that Governor Kimura (now former Governor Kimura) was arrested in a rather unfortunate slush fund scandal, and so the CG had made plans to meet Wakayama's new governor, Governor Nisaka**. Having already experienced this exact courtesy call not even a year earlier, I didn't think much about it. The NIV chief is out this week, the PAO is out this month, and I've been asked to fill both jobs in their absence. Between that, bidding, EER preparation, and MS research, I find my days are pretty packed. The evening before the trip I stayed at work till 7:45 or so trying to get things done. Wakayama was on my to-do list, wedged somewhere between 'follow up on E-visa questions with Tokyo' and 'write report on ABIC visit for PAS'.
Adjudications that morning went to 11:35 exactly; this left me 10 minutes to grab an onigiri and some coffee at the convenience store, put on my jacket, and sprint to the consular car. Gathering up my things to go, I realized I'd made an enormous error: I had completely forgotten my business cards. In Japan, this is something akin to leaving the house clad in nothing but a bathrobe. But, as there wasn't anything I could do about it short of bumming cards off one of the other JOs (an idea briefly considered, but ultimately abandoned), I decided to try and be graceful and cool about the mistake. Sitting next to the CG in the backseat, reading over the visit's schedule, I let him know calmly about my faux pas. He did his best to take it in stride.
"So, no meishi... Well, do you have a pad of paper or something with you? Something for notes?"
Uh, paper? Notes? I looked at him blankly. The only thing I had with me was a purple spiral bound 8 1/2 by 11" notebook I'd been using to keep track of my bids. I pulled this out. It seemed huge, like something a sweatpants-wearing grad student would be toting around. He handed me a printed write up of the notes from the last visit to Wakayama as an example, by which I gathered that I was to be the official notetaker for this courtesy call. I don't even remember there being a notetaker the last time; certainly it wasn't me! But no problem. Well, small problem:
"Do you happen to have a pen I could borrow?" I asked him. At this point I was cursing violently to myself while biting my lips in mortification over my clear lack of preparation. It was terribly tempting to shower him with apologies while cutting off a little finger to prove my remorse, but I thankfully stopped myself. No one cares about intentions. All that matters are results.
The next day, back in the office, I stayed late to write up my notes for him. The reply? "This is great. Run it through spellcheck and send it to PAS and POL." Spellcheck. Right. Well, only the mediocre are always at their best!
Here's a picture from our consulate website:
That's me in the back, grimacing. Next time, I'm bringing along an entire stationery store.
*The name of this prefecture literally translates as 'Harmonious Singing Mountains'. Isn't that nice?
**Kimura wins points for better business cards (made of wood!; I guess that's what slush fund money gets you), but on the whole I found Nisaka much more thoughtful and personable. And, you know, my opinion counts a lot here.