Japanese Taxicab

I reach my arm out to grasp the shiny metal car door handle. Before I can pull the handle, the door suddenly swings opens on its own. I look around to see if anyone else saw the door open, but unfortunately, I am alone. I peek my head into the cab before I address my backpack and carry-on Samsonite roller.

As I hop in, I feel as though this gentleman driving the cab had just opened the door to his home for Thanksgiving; except instead of a roasting turkey and cranberry sauce aroma protruding through the doors, I am instantly overcome by the smell of fresh rubber. I wonder to myself if the smell is coming from the aftermarket floor mats that he most likely spent months shopping for…

“Konbanwa” is voiced from the front seat of the taxicab. I nod and quickly throw my roller and backpack into the back seat. The man looks back and begins speaking more Japanese. I am completely clueless as to what he is saying. I whip out my iPhone like it’s the life source mechanism that it is and I quickly point to the area on Google maps that I am meeting friends at. He nods, and we are suddenly off into the night…

I look around inside the cab and realize that everything is extremely well positioned. I glance over at my bags and how scattered and unorganized they are in relation to the rest of the items inside his ‘office’. I instantly regret putting my roller on top of this man’s crisp white back seat. Although the car’s make and model were reminiscent of an older Toyota Corolla, there isn’t a single trace of a soda spill or cigarette burn on the crisp white upholstery covers.

I continue to investigate the inside of this glorious vehicle. In front of the driver’s seat on the dashboard, a GPS system is mounted perfectly. Behind the driver side seat is a plastic box that perfectly houses a number of tourist manuals. They slightly flop from front to back — they fit so damn perfectly — it’s almost as if they are showing off their skills. I look up and notice that the no smoking stickers seem to have been carefully positioned and calculated prior to their adherence to the crystal clear glass. The security camera is slightly tilted and I imagine that it can easily capture the entire plane view of the cab’s interior. Everything has their place, everything has their purpose, and everything feels like it is meant to be. This cab is quite frankly the most harmonious vessel that I have ever set foot in.

As I sit contently in the backseat among a sea of order, structure, and uniformity, I suddenly notice that the driver’s passenger side seat belt is tangled. I reach out and grasp the belt and quickly disentangle it. I ask myself immediately after why I did so, and why I would even care to do so. I laugh as I realize that the pride that he takes in his craft and work have quickly rubbed off on me. I chuckle and notice myself smiling in the reflection of the rain-covered window as we pass a street lamp.

I look down and reposition my carryon’s wheels so that they are no longer touching the seat covers — one small attempt at acknowledging and accepting my poor decision to place the carry on in the back seat in the first place. I pull the armrest down and I become pleasantly surprised by how closely the white cloth upholstery is draped throughout the inside of the compartment. God, I love a good armrest — and this small interior design gesture takes my love to a new all-time high. He really hasn’t missed a single detail. I nod to myself in satisfaction and gaze back out the window.

With the armrest down, and the wheels spinning in route to my first destination in Tokyo, Japan, I notice that I feel this newfound sense of calm and ease throughout my body. Childhood memories of sitting on my Nana’s couch come to mind. It isn’t the nicest couch, but it’s more than just the couch that will put you in the state of comfort that I am referring to — it’s the surrounding company, the sense of security, and the feeling that you get every time that you visit her. That same sense of company, security, and feeling is now present as we breeze through the brisk night together without conversation nor noise. I don’t know this man, I don’t speak his language, he doesn’t speak mine, but yet I feel content, I feel safe, I feel ready to go on a mission.

We aren’t even ten miles from Haneda airport, and I’ve already gained so much appreciation for Japan, its people, its culture, and this damn taxi cab. We arrive promptly on time, and for some reason, I don’t want to get out of the cab. It’s as if my favorite song is on the radio and I want to hear it all the way through — except the only difference is that the entire ride we sat in silence. This is Japan, and this is my first experience with this sacred land. I’ve only been here for an hour, and I’m already in love.

Tom Roche is a SF based Freelance Marketing Consultant passionate about social media, marketing, music, travel, culture, and entrepreneurship. For more information please visit: http://tom-roche.com.

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