Thursday, June 16, 2005

Phoenix Takes A Dive

So, I get off work on Monday, and the sun is still out, so I decide to bike to Yamakishi for grocery shopping.

Well, as much as I like riding my bike, I wasn't too keen on going the direct route there. You see, there are no sidewalks on the major road (since there aren't any houses either, just endless rice fields). I've biked there on the shoulder before but the cars come awfully close.

So, I turn off when the sidewalk ends. The road is elevated a few feet up, with flooded rice fields on either side. There's no sidewalk here, either, but there's no traffic whizzing by me at 70km/h either. I still try to keep as close to the left side as I can. I'm scanning to my right, looking for a road that will cut through the rice fields. There are dirt paths, but I'm not keen chancing them, as I've run into dead-ends that way.

Well, something suddenly feels a bit off with my front tire. I bring my focus back, and OFF it is! Off the road, I mean.

You know how they say that, when facing imminent danger, time slows down? It's absolutely true. I had time to have the following thoughts as the wheel rolled over the edge:



Can I turn in time? No! I'd have to turn so sharp, that I'd just fall over the edge anyway! [swearword]!



[fword]! [swearword]! [SWEARWORD]!!

At that point, the front wheel completely lost contact with the Earth, and I began the long, long descent into the flooded field. With time going as slow as it was, I had a lot of time to think about what was happening. A lot of that thought was "AAAAAHHHH!" but I also thought "Is my camera going to get wet?" I meant my phone, but I actually thought 'camera'. Weird.

Luckily, I managed to land somewhat exclusively on my left and back, somehow sparing my keitai from drowning. The perverse thing is, as I hit the water, the first thought I had was how much fun it would be to go swimming. Go figure.

Anyway, I got up, and tossed my bike back up to the road, and climbed out myself. I surveyed the damage. I had clearly left an impression on the rice field. I SHOULD have tried to repair the damage before I climbed out of the field to begin with, as I couldn't bring myself to climb back in to re-align the plants. Hindsight is always 20/20.

So, what do I do now? Can't go to Yamakishi like this, I'll have to go back home. On my bike. Covered in mud. ::sigh::

As I'm riding back, I run into a few of my students. I manage to pantomime what had happened, and they laugh at my predicament. "Hazukashii," they say. Indeed.

When I get home, I rinse myself off as well as I can with the hose. Inside, as I'm undressing in the entryway, I realize: if my neighbors are still standing outside (which they likely are), they can still sort of see me through the glass in my front door. At least, they can see what I'm doing. Hazukashii.

I take a shower, and try to rinse off my muddy clothes again before attempting to run them through the washer (in the end, I ran them through three times, and they're still dirty. I'll probably have to go clothes shopping this weekend, with my non-extant money).

Now, the total time from the accident through the clean-up was probably an hour. So, it's only around 7pm, SO, I go back to the school. My supervisor is likely still at work.

She is, and after I explain to her what happened (and she explains to our co-workers [and they all have a good laugh]), we go track down the owner of the rice field. We start at the point of impact. You can clearly see at least two plants out of alignment, but also out of reach. There's no way to get to them without climbing into the water.

My supervisor spots a man working in another rice field and runs out to ask him about the field I...deflowered. He happens to know the owner, and the owner happens to live quite nearby. My supervisor drives us over and we ring the doorbell.

The moment of truth approaches.

How will the owner take the news? Will there be demands of reparations? I don't know how much damage I did, but I know how much money I don't have (any). Will a simple apology be enough?

As we wait for the door to open, I mentally practice what few Japanese apologies I know. I don't think any are strong enough for this situation.

Suddenly, a side door opens, and the owner steps out, very casually. There's a young Japanese woman and a tall pale foreigner on his doorstep, he completely couldn't care less.

My SUPER supervisor explains the tragedy that has unfolded this day. She tries to estimate how much damage was done. I look downcast and remorseful to the best of my ability.

The owner waits patiently for her to finish, and when she does, he says, in the universal language of gestures: "Meh." He continues in Japanese: "No worries."

I love this man.

I still stammer out an apology as best I can, and we get out of there.

"You're very lucky," my supervisor says. No kidding. (Of course, if I were truly lucky, I wouldn't have gone over the edge at all....)

And I still have to go grocery shopping. Not Amused

Phoenix is a dirty, dirty man.

The long awaited extra pictures:

As you can see, I really left an impression.

Not that I'm trying to excuse it, but THERE IS NO CURB! It just goes Road -> Cliff.