Disclaimer: This is just a general overview of my first few days in Japan….have to start somewhere when you’re three weeks behind.
I’m about 3.5 weeks into my Japan adventure. Why has it taken me so long to write a blog one might ask? Well, I’m still staying in a hotel for starters – with the slowest internet I’ve seen since 1996. Loading pictures? HA. Also, I wasn’t able to drive until 3 days ago. Never have I realized how important it was to have an international driver’s license or a vehicle to drive, especially when public transportation is nil. Not to mention in another language. I wasn’t issued an ID card when I got here which you need to do just about anything – including get a driver’s license. Fortunately, the Marines have recently issued me paperwork that allows me the benefits of working on base. Unfortunately, that requires carrying around a 10 page packet of information in my purse to go along with my ITO, passport, and work orders. That sucker was heavy before I added a tree. Another reason for the lack of blogging is the fact that I work. Like, a lot. There have been some crazy issues since I’ve been here but it looks like those are getting ironed out slowly but surely. All in all, I’m working on keeping this more updated. So back off.
This adventure began on November 30th in the States at about 445 am. I had stayed up all night packing and repacking, re-weighing my 50 pound bags and being terrified of what I had committed myself to. My family all came to the airport with me, which was great. One last kiss and a hug, off I went. If only it was so easy. I had to fly from Dallas to Chicago, Chicago to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Okinawa. Talk about a long day – 24 straight hours of travel. No screaming kids and no smelly people in the seats next to me, this new life was off to a good start. And to top it off, all of my bags arrived with me in Okinawa! Given the amount of plane changes I was doing, this really was a shock to me. I had divided my clothes up into outfits and put them into different suitcases, prepared for the worst case situation. One bag gets lost? No problem, work clothes and play clothes in each bag; I could have gotten by with half of my stuff for a while. But of course, when one is prepared for trouble, it never happens. Sigh and relief.
My new boss, Ed, and the current GM of the restaurant, Miro, scooped me up at the airport like an old friend. One that they can’t quite remember what she looks like. Luckily, the staff had made a HUGE sign for me so they were pretty easy to spot. It was a great feeling to be so warmly welcomed by people that didn’t know me from any other American girl getting off that plane. They dropped me off at the hotel around 11 pm (that’s right, 38 hours after my initial start) for what was supposed to be a night of rest and really ended up feeling like a nap.
Ed was back the next morning at 8 am. Phew, we sure hit the ground running, huh? The first day was a big accomplishment. We were able to get most of my paperwork complete, went to the ID office to make an appointment, met a few people at the restaurant, stopped by the beach, got phone numbers for housing agencies, etc. Not bad for being in the country less than 12 hours! Ed left later that evening to attend to business in Tokyo and we both assumed things would go smoothly at the ID office the next morning, it was the last bit of paperwork I would need to do. And here I am, 3 weeks later, ID-less. I guess we all know what assuming does…..
Next afternoon at the ID office. I walked in, checked in, no problems. Right up until this conversation:
ID office personnel: Last four.
Me: I’m sorry?
IPAC: Last. Four.
ID: Last four of your social.
Me: Oh, okay sorry. xxxx.
ID: Ma’am, you haven’t been entered into CVC.
Me: Um, I’m sorry?
ID: Do you know you haven’t been entered into CVC?
Me: I’m not sure what that is…
ID: Well, you haven’t been entered. Are you active or contract?
Me: (thinking, why did you ask me if i was entered into whatever the hell if you know I wasn’t?) Listen, I’ve been here, in this country, for less than 36 hours. I don’t have a clue what you’re asking me.
ID: Active duty military or contractor?
Me: I guess contractor (again thinking, seriously? Clearly I’m not military if I don’t know what you’re asking me).
ID: Go back to your seat.
Me: I thought this was my seat.
ID: Your seat in the waiting area.
I returned to my seat, my other seat and waited while getting a little bit nervous. What was this world I was living in? Acronym city, that’s what. Here’s where it gets fun.
ID: (conversation in the waiting room) Ma’am, are you DoD or civilian?
Me: Well, I’m definitely not DoD, so civilian.
ID: You didn’t say you were civilian contractor, you said contractor.
Me: I was only given the two options, contractor or active duty. I wasn’t aware there were two kinds of contractors.
ID: Well, you should have told us.
Me: Okay, so can I go back to my other seat and get my civilian contractor SOFA ID card now?
ID: No, we don’t issue SOFA ID cards to people. Sorry.
And he walked away.
Okay now, this was an issue. That basically meant that I couldn’t do anything on base besides work – not go to the movies, bowling alley, PX, commissary, post office. Non of the perks I was guaranteed when hired. Thankfully, there were several people in the office that were very very helpful. They led us in the right direction. Now as of the 26th of December, ID cards are in the process and should be done by the first of the year. I’ll believe it when I see it.
All in all, it’s been a successful three weeks. I have finally ventured out on my own and was able to explore a little bit of town. That blog will be next and boy, it’s a good one. I have figured out most of the acronyms and have stumped a few military personnel along the way in regards to what they stand for. Work is going fairly smoothly, a new job is never without slight adjustments. Hotel living will OFFICIALLY be coming to an end after a 1/3 of a year and it won’t be a day too soon. It’s great at first, but man. Enough is enough. Thanks for reading this far, I know it was another long one. I love and miss you guys, most of you anyway. Hope everyone had a great Christmas and stayed safe in your crazy weather. It was 70 degrees here. Before you get too jealous, keep in mind it also rained over 2 inches. Sayonara.