San Francisco Chronicle

Late night opens door to temporary love affair

- Ann Killion is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: akillion@sfchronicl­ Twitter: @annkillion

TOKYO — I know it might be inappropri­ate, but I’ve fallen in love.

It’s just a business trip fling. But right now it feels lifechangi­ng.

My new love? A Tokyo taxi. When we first got here, the Olympic organizers gave all the media an envelope holding 14 taxi vouchers. This was supposed to make up for the COVID protocol that prohibits us from hailing taxis on the street or from riding this city’s fabulous public transit system.

I stuck them in my bag and kept taking buses. Bus after bus, a bus to another bus, waiting for a bus, missing a bus. I saw those shiny, attractive black taxis around, picking up reporters who looked so happy. But getting into a relationsh­ip with a taxi seemed complicate­d.

But Friday night, a group of us decided that booking taxis using our precious vouchers would be a good idea. It was going to be late night in Yokohama at the United StatesNeth­erlands soccer game. Many of us had early assignment­s Saturday morning. And we all had a hunch of what kind of night it would be and we were right: extra time and penalty kicks, of course.

So I called the magic number, talked to someone who spoke English and gave him my details. Instead of depending on a postmidnig­ht bus getting back to the Olympic transit mall at around 1:30 a.m., then waiting for another bus to my hotel and rolling in around 2:30 a.m., just a few hours before Katie Ledecky was set to swim, I booked a taxi straight from the stadium to my hotel.

When I walked out of the Yokohama stadium, there was my taxi waiting for me. Not on time, but early. Spotless. Gleaming. Cushy leather seats. And WiFi. It was love at first sight.

We took off on time. I finished writing my column and sent it from the back of the taxi. I looked up and I was at my hotel. It was 1 a.m., early by Olympic standards.

I swooned.

This affair won’t last long. The romance — and the vouchers — will run out. Eventually, I’ll finish my 14day soft quarantine and be able to take public transporta­tion. And I can always go back to the old familiar relationsh­ip, the Olympic bus.

But for the moment, I’m simply giddy.

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