48 Hours a Day
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhang Heng realized that he underestimated the extent of Takeda Tetsuya, his new boss’ ruthlessness.
He sent the man back to the shop at 3.15 in the morning. Then after spending ten minutes unloading and packing the seafood, Zhang Heng left the shop at 3.35. By 6.30, he was still driving with about half of the undelivered goods at the back of the van.
By then, the street was growing busy—all the office workers who lived far from their workplaces were already out the door, spilling into the underground subway and bus stations. The number of cars on the road were also gradually increasing. Zhang Heng went to two other places, and when he left an izakaya1, he encountered two traffic policemen who were just starting their shifts. As a result, he decided not to risk continuing the delivery.
Driving without a license in Japan would be a severe offense. Not only would the offending driver have to serve less than 3 years of jail time and pay a 500,000 yen fine, all passengers and owners of the vehicle would also be convicted and fined. It was almost at peak hours. If Zhang Heng did not leave, chances were, he would be stuck in a jam.
Zhang Heng brought the L300 back to the store to an unsurprised Takeda Tetsuya. The latter picked up the phone and contacted the former delivery man, before turning to Zhang Heng and said, “You have one more week. After that, Takahashi Koichi will be back in his hometown. If you still can’t complete the delivery by then and I suffer a loss, would you pay me back?”
“Alright.” Zhang Heng answered.
Zhang Heng’s unwavering answer was not quite what Takeda Takashi had expected. This situation was, in all honesty, quite a tragedy for the store owner—not only was he unable to contend with the young man, but he was also in a vulnerable position that the young man could capitalize on. He could do nothing about Zhang Heng not completing the job, so he could only grumble and make a fuss. He really hadn’t expected the young man to actually agree so breezily.
Takeda Takashi said cunningly, “Hey, kid, you better don’t lie. If you can’t do it, then you can’t! The sooner you tell me, the sooner I can figure out a way to hire another driver. I worked hard to get each and every one of these customers! Don’t make empty promises. If you still cannot complete your task, the one at stake is my shop!”
“If I fail to complete the deliveries, I will pay you back whatever you lose!” Zhang Heng hopped down the van and stretched his shoulders and wrists. His first delivery was unsuccessful, and after driving from the wee hours of the morning, his body and mind were exhausted. But he found that somehow, this pressure had drastically improved his driving. It would appear that this nonstop driving around was much more useful than if he were to practice the entire day.
Of course, he could always tell Takeda Takashi to reduce his cargo, but if he was not even willing to accept a small challenge like this, then why bother to participate in the competition? He might as well just give up then.
Zhang Heng took the bus back to campus and was only able to wash his face and quickly gobble down a few pieces of bread before he had to rush for another Japanese lesson.
Only in the evening did he get the chance to make up for being awake the whole morning. He had set the alarm for four hours. Later, he had dinner. He then visited the bookstore nearby to buy a map of Tokyo.
As mentioned previously, self-reflection and deduction were Zhang Heng’s strengths. On his way back to campus that morning, he had already started mulling over reasons he was unable to complete his task that day. Other than his unpolished driving skills and the L300’s poor performance, his unfamiliarity with the roads and lack of route planning were also crucial factors.
No matter how good a driver was, it would be challenging for him to be able to perform to be at fullest capacity if he was unfamiliar with the location of the competition.
At 1.20 in the morning, Zhang Heng arrived at the parking lot, gave Mr. Crab two onigiri1, who gleefully opened the gate for him. He returned to the store at 7.34 am. Unfortunately, his performance today was worse than the day before, delivering only about 40% of the goods.
Takeda Takashi was cleaning the sink in his pajamas when he saw the young man return. “Young people should not be too confident. It’s not too late for you to give up now. Otherwise, in six days, you will have to sell yourself to me as a slave and work for free your whole life.”
Zhang Heng said nothing in reply. He had only himself to blame, taking too much time planning the route and unfamiliarity with the names of the places causing him to arrive at the wrong location a couple of times. He even nearly drove all the way to Okinawa to see bikinis!
Zhang Heng added another item to his to-do list—Get familiar with Tokyo’s streets.
Takashi Seafood Products’ customers could be divided into two main types: regular customers and new customers. The former received their goods at the same locations while the latter was more spontaneous, which, at the moment, Zhang Heng could do nothing about. For the regular clientele, on the other hand, Zhang Heng could mark their location on the map, then use a pen to connect the dots and find the best route for delivery.
After that, he simply had to slot in the new customers’ locations that were en route. That way, he could save a large portion of his time.
So, on the third day, Zhang Heng delivered 70% of the goods, and for the first time, when the L300 pulled up the in front of the shop, Takeda Takashi did not make fun of him.
On the fourth day, only 20% of the goods did not make it to the clients. On the fifth day, however, Zhang Heng found himself at a bottleneck.
Although he had done his best to make every minute count, he still had 15% of undelivered goods. It was only thanks to the careful planning that he was able to send them to nearby clients. The remaining ones were located further from town or in more secluded areas—completely overlooking them.
If he were to deliver them now, it would take him an exhaustingly long time to reach. While his driving skills still had room for improvement, he only had two more days before the ‘deadline’– not delivering all of the remaining goods was out of the question. Once again, Zhang Heng found himself deep in thought.
Takeda Takashi, who had his head buried in an adult magazine, looked up suddenly. “To a racer, his car is more important than his wife. So, how could a person who doesn’t even understand his own wife manage the relationship? Tsk, tsk! Young people nowadays are so foolhardy.”
“Do you have the blueprint of the car?” Zhang Heng asked the man poring over an ocean of cigarette butts.
“A great racecar driver simply needs to listen to be able to tell the horsepower of an engine, but I can’t be so harsh to a rookie like yourself, right?” Takeda Takashi answered in a patronizing tone. It was like this guy had to accomplish something, however small, or he would die. “I have the drawing of the modification on my computer. Take a look at it yourself. Don’t compete against it. Get to know its temper, then you’ll be able to control it well.”
Zhang Heng turned on the computer and was immediately greeted by Takeda Takashi’s ‘hidden files.’ Among the mountain of porn, Zhang Heng found what he wanted. To his surprise, there was not only the blueprint for the L300 but also blueprints for other cars as well. They were all earlier models, though. It seemed like they had all been modified by a certain Mr. Takeda Takashi.
On top of that, there was also a copy of a manual.
Takeda Takashi called out from downstairs, “Focus on studying the L300. Ignore everything else. You’re not at that level yet. Don’t try to run before you can even crawl!”