Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Craziest thing I have done to make money in Japan

Let me just start off by saying, its probably not what you are thinking. ;-P

No, the craziest thing I have done for money while living abroad was Match Reporting.

I found this 'per-gig' job on craigslist...where all good jobs come from of course. :-/
There is a company out there that is very interested in obtaining live stats for Japanese professional sporting events. Especially basketball, volleyball, and soccer (football to everyone but my fellow American's). I know this because I registered with the Asian regional manager of this company, a Chicagoan who formerly lived in Japan but now is based out of Thailand (wtf; I know, right!). The company pays JPY 7000 (about $80) to attend Japan-league Basketball games, and report play-by-play the various stats they wanted about the match. Actually after the cost of the ticket (JPY1500-2000) and transportation (JPY500-2000)
one was left with a net pay of about JPY4000 for 2-3 hours of work. Probably averaged out to about $15 an hour per match.

An average match took about 120 minutes give or take 10 minutes for overtime, injuries, halftime etc. One time I had to wait an extra 35 minutes because the backboard shattered after a dunk and they didn't know how to replace the hoop. It took forever!!!
Anyway, for about 120 minutes, I called out the possessions, scores, time, and fouls. They were very specific about what stats they wanted. The most annoying things was that the philippina/philippino operator on the other end repeated every damn thing back as soon as you finished saying it. It was like an awful digitalized echo with a Philippino accent. And it wasn't even full sentences.

Imagine saying "Two points, home. Away possession. time two minutes thirty-eight seconds. Turnover .Home possession..." and having it repeated back to you. Its bad enough having to speak like that for 2 hours let alone hearing it back again.

So this gig I did a half-dozen times. But I soon realized that I was getting the matches at stadiums way out in the booneys that nobody wanted.  quite far from any train stations. One time I was going to be late and had to take a taxi to the stadium which ended up eating into my entire net pay. Leaving me with absolutely nothing. Imagine my despair and "multiply it by infinity, then carry it to the depths of eternity and you will have only a faint idea of what I am talking about"Meet Joe Black-Anthony Hopkins. 

So in an attempt to save on transportation, one day in January 2012 I rode my clunky mamachari bicycle (see picture below) to the stadium in Chiba...approximately 12 miles away. It took me 1hr and 45 minutes in 40 degree F weather, one way.  :-( But I saved $20 on the train fare. :-D
At a time when I was counting "pennies" to buy lunch, that was a big deal.

Just to give you some idea of that bicycle trip. I must have cycled some 25 miles through not only some densely populated cities from Matsudo, Chiba out to some very rural looking areas, past large open fields and dark looming construction sites. At one point I was chugging up a long sweeping curve in the road, again around 9pm or so, and just as I started picking up speed on the other side of the hill, two cars came from opposing sides of the narrow road. So to give them space, I shifted over and off the road into what looked like space for parking but it was so dark and there weren't any street lights so I couldn't be sure. Going full speed ahead, I nailed a long, thin, black metal chain held between two short posts and was nearly thrown from the mamachari, the rear wheel was suspended in air for what seemed an eternity, but instead of flipping me off it thankfully, in the end came, to rest just about where it lifted off from. I was damn lucky that chain was only held a foot or so off the ground. Being clotheslined at the neck going full speed in the dark would have ended much worse for yours truly.

I got home that night thankful for the adventure and "learning experience", the little extra I was able to take home as my net pay, and for returning in one piece. But when I hit that pillow, I remember thinking There has got to be any easier... ZZZZZzzzzzzzz.

And that has been the craziest thing I have done to make money at home or abroad. How about you? Would love to have some comments from my readers. Whats the craziest thing you have ever done to make money?
Email me or leave your comments below.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Craziest thing I have done to save money in Japan

This is a truly embarrassing story but one that I don't mind telling. At the time, I was struggling to pay for the train fee to get to the training site in order to get the new job teaching English that I needed to get a visa to stay in Japan. . . Did you catch all that?

I actually had an incident in the bathroom during the full week of unpaid training. Without going into too much detail, I had basically managed to drop approximately JPY800 ($8.50) worth of coins into the toilet which fell out of my pocket as I pulled my suit pants back on. I stared  horrified at the murky water, thinking "HELL NO! That DID NOT just happen!" There is no way I was going to reach for the coins I so desperately needed to get back home that night. But I wasn't sure if the coins would stay put if the toilet was flushed. I guess I wasn't that desperate to chance it...I pushed the lever, closed my eyes, and prayed. When the bathroom became silent again I opened one eye slowly, and to my surprise there was my precious, my ticket home shimmering in a now clean bowl of porcelain. It was still a bit irksome but I reached my hand in a grabbed the gold and silver colored yen pieces and quickly rushed to the sink. I washed each coin with soap for at least a minute and when I was done I washed my hands twice over. Somehow the whole idea of it all still felt dirty so I wrapped the coins in a paper towel until it was time to deposit them in the train ticket dispensing machine. I went back to continue training but found it a bit difficult to make eye contact with anyone for a while.

And that, my dear readers, is literally the craziest thing I have done to save money in Japan.

The moral of the story
ALWAYS wash your hands when handling money and never put coins in your mouth :-/  ...I guess Mother was right again on both accounts.

How about you?
What is the craziest thing you have done to go out of your way to save money? I would love to know. Please email me or leave your comments below and thanks for reading!