Firefly in Japan, Part 9: The air in the dojo was crisp, but tinged with the scent of body odor, pain and proper form.
It was a Thursday. Bill and I were working at the office of a clothing shop in Shibuya. I was configuring an antivirus server that would automatically deploy antivirus clients to all of the computers on the network.
“Hows it going?” Bill asked, peering over my shoulder.
“Yeah, it’s fine. I’m almost done. How are you going?” I asked.
“Well,” Bill’s face scrunched up. “Bit of a problem really, but I think I’ve got it.” Bill said.
“Ok. Well it’s almost 5:30. I need to leave soon to make my train to my Martial Arts class. If you don’t mind, I’ll leave as soon as I’m finished.” I said.
My shift really went until 6pm, but I had an agreement with Bill and Shane that I would leave early twice a week at 5:30pm. In return, I would work to 6:30pm or 7pm twice a week. I needed to board the 6:20 train from Shinjuku to make the class.
I was excited about the class tonight. Thursday was my absolute favourite night of the week. Togara-sensei was leading the class, there was a small and devoted number of students, and we got plenty of personal attention. The dojo was amazing. When you walk in, you can feel the authentic martial arts emanating from every corner of the room. The air in the dojo was crisp, but tinged with the scent of body odour, pain and proper form. On the floor, laid springed tatami mats, so we could bounce and throw each other around like rag dolls and only be slightly worse for wear. This was very fun for students, but life preserving for the poor bastard who Togara-sensei was using as his personal bitch for that particular night. Togara-sensei was strict and didn’t fuck around, as countless bruises, strains, sprains and aches can attest.
The clock struck 5:28, as I finished the final settings for the antivirus package. I walked over to a machine, and turned it on. A smile spread across my face as the software downloaded itself, executed, and automatically installed itself. I did a couple of tests, and confirmed it was working fine. I went back and instructed the server to install on all the machines.
“I’m done. The next time everyone logs in, they’re going to have the new version of AV. I’ll come back tomorrow morning to check the installs and make sure it doesn’t cause any problems.”
“Oh… um, you’re leaving already?” Bill asked, concerned.
“Right. Tonight is Thursday, I have my class. It’s already 5:32, so I have to run. Do you need me to do anything else?” I asked, zipping up my bag containing my PC.
“Anything else? Um… well I’m still having this problem here…” Bill gestured to the server screen.
“Alright. Can I quickly help you somehow?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. Do you know whats wrong?” Bill asked, angling the screen towards me.
I peered in for a look. “Hmmm..” I said, “I don’t know, I’d need to sit down and spend some more time on it. If it doesn’t work, how about a re-install?” I advised. I checked my watch. “Look mate, I’m sorry but I really have to run. If you really need help, give me a call.”
Bill hesitated, and glanced at the server. “Alright…” He said, haltingly.
I grabbed my bag and took off at a jog. I felt free and happy. I finished my work, it worked perfectly, and I was going to my favourite class. I bounded through the office, and rode the elevator down to the ground floor. I remembered a martial arts technique I was having problems with last week, and I was sure I could nail it tonight. If not, Togara-sensei can show me exactly what to do. I cut through the crowd of faceless salarymen, and headed down into the train station. It was a long train ride to the dojo, but it was worth every minute. Since I was riding around peak-time, I had to stand. I didn’t care – I enjoyed Thursday night so much, I would have walked there. I can’t get a big stupid grin off my face.
The train is crowded. My phone rings. Angry glances from surrounding passengers. It’s Bill.
“Hello Bill, hows the server?” I ask.
“Not so good. It’s still not working.” Bill said.
“Oh…. OK. Well, I’m already on the train for my class. Sorry about that.” I said. People continued to look at me with angry faces, upset I was talking on the phone on the crowded train.
Bill paused for a moment.
“Can you come back?” Bill asked.
My breath stuck in my throat.
“What? Come back?” I exclaimed.
“I want to get this working tonight. Maybe you can fix it.” Bill said.
It was my turn to look angry and upset. “I really want to go to this class… I promised someone I would be their training partner. Is this really important? Can I look at it tomorrow? If I come back, I will definitely miss my class.”
“Can you come back?” Bill repeated.
A wave of anger boils up. I grit my teeth. After a long pause, I said : “Ok. Fine. I’m coming back.”
Before Bill could reply, I hung up the phone in disgust. The doors slid open, and I trudged to the other side of the tracks. I caught the train back. I stormed out of the station. I re-entered the office, and went back into the server room. Bill was still looking at the server. He stood when he saw me come in.
“Let me have a look then.” I said, failing to conceal my feelings of frustration.
I sat down and looked at the server. I clicked through a number of screens, and came to rest on the main settings screen.
I examined the settings. Then I experienced a mix of rage and disappointment.
“You set the IP wrong.” I said.
“What?” Bill looked at the screen.
“The IP is just set wrong. Thats it. You left it on default.”
“Oh.” Bill said slowly.
I clicked Execute, and of course, it worked perfectly.
An air of awkward silence hang between us. I missed my class. All because Bill didn’t check the most basic, obvious setting. He called me back for nothing.
“Gee… I made you miss your class. I’m sorry,” Bill lamely offered.
“Don’t worry about it.” I grabbed my stuff. I looked at my watch. 6:13pm. My train from Shinjuku leaves in a few minutes. I trudged out of the office in decidedly less higher spirits. Depressed, upset, angry and dejected, I slowly walked back to the station to head back home.
Very, very annoying. Even infuriating. But I’m a pretty forgiving person, so I forgave him. The next incident however, was twice as bad and impossible to forgive.