Running the Gauntlet of a Tokyo Alley
You can see where you need to go.
You see the door to your office at the other end of this narrow alley.
You take a deep breath and clutch your laptop for dear life.
Before you even take a step into the confined alley, a real Tokyo dude buzzes you on his moped. He’s got an oversized box on the back of his scooter, delivering a pizza or something.
You soldier on…
An old woman emerges from the bushes with a hose, spraying the surface of the alley randomly, appearing not to notice anyone who walks by. Your legs take a splashing, but you hold your laptop high and manage to keep it dry.
Your pace quickens, now anticipating more tiny old women emerging from every bush you see.
From the far end of the alley, a black cab screeches into view. Your head bolts left then right, then up and even down, looking for somewhere to scurry to safety. You notice possible refuge behind a bank of vending machines on the right side. You make a bolt for it. The cab doesn’t slow, but appears to rev, actually gunning for you.
“What the hell?” you think.
At this point, your elbow is grazed by a quick moving object from behind. When you emerge from your confusion, you see a tiny Toyota delivery van speeding away. They got you with their mirror.
You grow flustered. Where did the cab go?
Maybe you have earned yourself a pit stop in this madness. You are next to a vending machine after all. You scan your choices and fiddle for change in your pocket. Ah yes, the lemon tea on the top row looks amazing.
Just as you reach to insert the coins, ten identically clad and briefcase carrying ‘salarymen’ fall in line, and suddenly you have the 11th choice. How the hell did that line form so quickly? It’s as though they moved as one interconnected body, and they all were in desperate need of the identical brand of iced coffee.
Oh well, there will be 15 more vending machines before you reach the end of the alley. You cut your losses and amble on.
Another black cab, this time you hear it from behind. You maneuver to the left, but for some reason it is intent on getting by on the right. You switch sides of the alley only to notice another cab approaching from the front. Neither cab wants to be the one to slow down.
You are caught in the middle of a back alley knife fight between two city cabs. There is neither refuge to the left nor right. You are forced to do some kind of elaborate two step in the middle of the alley as both cabs jockey for position, pivoting and sixteen point turning to get by each other. Never a thought of you. You are on your own.
Somehow eluding the tangle of cabs, you kind of assume you are safe…
And that is when two sets of window washers grapple from the side buildings and drop into the streets like ninjas about to drop their finishing move. The one that assures no one who sees them survives. Armed with window wiping blades, you quickly imagine your soapy demise. At this point, you break into a sprint. It is the only way.
More old ladies try to hose you down.
The window ninjas from behind break into a sprint as well.
Now four cabs are converging as two delivery vans race to pass them.
The row of iced coffee inspired salarymen fall into the front line, blocking your route to the office door. You take wrap your laptop in your arms like a running back clinging to a football. You lower your head and make your bolt for the endline.
This is the glory of a morning commute down a back Tokyo alleyway.