Reflections on Three Crazy Months
I’ve been stuck.
I write my blogs ahead of time just in case this happens.
So I don’t have to force one out so I can meet a deadline.
But I’ve been stuck.
So instead of moving forward, take a step back with me.
Sometimes a little backtracking is the fastest way to continue forward.
We’ll do it in three. The magic number.
Before starting work, getting used to work, and where we seem to be headed.
Me and my girlfriend had gotten to Melbourne Airport with our luggage, at last.
We were exhausted, but finally ready to go back to Japan.
That expression ‘something’s gotta give.’ It felt like that with this last flight we found.
With the coronavirus situation exploding and us having already been through about 30 different cancellation procedures (our first flight back which had been scheduled to transit through Taiwan who closed their borders last minute and didn’t tell us), having found a miracle flight on the 26th of March just days later seemed like it would be worth the crazy last-minute prices.
As we checked in we were told they couldn’t find our names. However we were absolutely sure we’d booked the 26th. We went to customer service.
We were told our flight had been scheduled for April 26th, and besides, there was no way it could have been for March 26th as the flight back to Japan had already been full for several days and all other flights henceforth were cancelled. And yes, we are now stranded in Australia. Turns out the flight system, probably never having had to deal with a straight month of cancellations, booked us for the next immediate flight which was exactly 1 month later. People check the days, but who would even think to double check the month? That’s crazy.
Our jaws dropped. As we stepped aside to figure out what to do, keep our heads cool, and start making calls, a guy collapsed on the hard floor about 10 meters behind us (also shock from a cancelled flight perhaps?) and panic ensued.
I was supposed to start with stak on April 1st, we’d gotten our VISA and everything ready… after 3 years of hopping around on different VISAs and never finding stability, I was, at last, going back…
Anyways, hope was not all lost.
We collected ourselves, we returned to the Airbnb we still had (originally the plan was to be there till March 30th), and started looking at our options.
Among many other things, through several days of calls and being put on hold, the absolute bottom we reached was when the embassy of Japan told my girlfriend that it was her fault we were stuck as she’s the one who chose to go abroad in the first place, and that it was her responsibility to buy a flight back to Japan as there still were flights available (read: one flight a day for, at that moment, $8000 a seat).
They say: “if anything happens while you’re abroad, contact your embassy, they’ll take care of you.”
Then my grandma passed away, and you know, America was being America with the virus.
Then, we found a flight on the 7th that was.. relatively affordable. I figured well, you know, it’s just one week later than was planned.
Then, on a whim, I searched again and found a miracle. Another flight was suddenly available with 2 seats on the 3rd of April, no price change for switching the dates.
We went for it without looking back, fearing the borders closing any moment, and booked a 5AM train ride from Melbourne to Sydney for the next morning so we could get there in time for the flight.
About 5 hours into the 12 hour train ride, we lost service. In one of those blips where the signal finds its way through the stratosphere, we got the message that Japan had closed their borders to non-nationals from Australia.
It was done. I was paying for a new apartment in Kyoto, starting a new job in Hiroshima, not able to get back for either of it, and all of my (I thought more than sufficient) savings were split between a bunch of different companies around the world who promised me they would pay me back in a couple months for my cancelled reservations.
I saw my girlfriend off (she made it back safely), and I took a sad flight back through a few layovers to my hometown near Washington, D.C.
I eventually got home and locked myself in my room as my parents are both at extreme risk if they were to get sick.
There is so much more, so many random details, but honestly, none of it matters.
Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more instability, I couldn’t deal with any more of this visa, country-crossing lifestyle, I got faced with a sudden, ultimate challenge.
I want to also say, honestly, that through all this time, I always felt lucky. I have wonderful people in my life and they are (so far) out of danger, I kept feeling, rather than thinking.
There are few lessons that life has really engraved in me, and one is that truly, from every “bad” (really meaning difficult or unexpected) moment comes countless good ones. It’s only with the hardships, that we can then experience the good times and appreciate them for what they are.
So I got to begin working from home for a company in Japan. When everything was up in the air, everything was hard. But as soon as it was clear I wouldn’t be getting back to Japan anytime soon, honestly everything settled down. Work took off. Everything with stak has been going smoothly. I’m super excited to do this job, and I think we’re a good fit. From starting off not knowing what I was even going to do for the company to now where I have more work and projects than I know what to do with, and I find them all rewarding. it’s looking good.
The Year 2020
This is the year of Chaos. We are feeling it.
No matter what your view is, I think we can all agree, especially in America, this is the year we are facing the chaos that we are on the verge of reaching as a species.
Through our rapidly accelerating technological development and the disparity it necessarily brings. In terms of economics, military, policing, education (sadly lagging behind).. every aspect of life, technology is taking the reins before we realized we’d let go of them.
This is the crazy part where I somehow connect what we do at stak to these big problems in the world and say how we are part of the solution.
The problems we face are insanely complex, and it is just wrong to boil them down to simple solutions.
It is, I believe, even more wrong to use these problems for personal gain.
I know this week’s entry has very little to do with tech, and I will stay on focus most of the time, but right now, it is more important to be human.
And I hope whatever side you might think you’re on, you take some time to feel your humanity and the humanity of those around you, and those not around you, and those you might put far, far away from yourself.
The chaos we are feeling is caused by real issues, or it wouldn’t be happening.
The solution to these issues is not simple, or it would have been solved.
Every action, every vote, every conversation counts towards progress, which ought to be our goal.
We must continue to develop our abilities to think for ourselves and feel for others.
What you think matters – so nurture your mind and your heart.
Everything in the world out there is trying to bend your mind towards what it wants from you. Every product is designed for you to want to buy it, every politician speaks so you will support them. Accept these things, take information wherever you find it, and always search for a deeper understanding.
Every post in a tech blog ought to be about tech.
But you know, there is no blog without human beings.