Saturday, September 03, 2005


This was not called execution. This was called retirement.

O shirase / for your information
There are those of you, I'm sure, who are quite fond of me, and would find the idea of me going under the front wheels of a car somewhat distressing. You may not enjoy the following anecdote. Perhaps it would be a better idea to start this post with the announcement that I'm alive, well and don't have a scratch on me. That said, I don't think my bike's going anywhere ever again.

Here's why:

The tale of woe: I was riding to Shinsaibashi last night to pick up some money from Andrew (I covered one of his classes while he was in China.) I was jetting down a side street, approaching a junction. I was wearing a white t-shirt and my bike had a dynamo light. I had right of way. There was a black car edging out into the junction from one side.

I swerved slightly to go around the front of the car, which was still edging forward slowly, slowly.

Then slightly less slowly, the car pulled forward, gently pushing into me and the bike. I yelled TOMARE! "stop!" but the car kept coming. Oh crap, I thought as I toppled sideways, this guy's a lunatic and he's running me over on purpose. How the hell am I going to make it out of this? There was a crunching sound as the car's crappy fibreglass bumper splintered on the bike, then the car stopped and I pulled my bike upright, cast a venomous look at the driver, then prepared to go on my way.

My bike wouldn't move.

Hmmm, I thought, if this guy really is a lunatic and he just ran me down on purpose, I could be in a spot of bother here. There was a small crowd of people gawping outside the convenience store on the corner, but I knew the possibility of anyone interceding on my behalf if things got hairy was zero.

The motorist pulled his car over to one side and climbed out. As he approached, I was relieved to see that I was about twice the size of him.

Please excuse me, he said, in Japanese. This looks a little more promising, I thought.

I'm ok, I said.

He fished out his wallet and tried to give me 10,000 yen. I argued him down to 5000, although a more detailed examination of my bike's wheels 10 minutes later indicated that my nobility may have been misplaced. We exchanged phone numbers.

Where are you going? he asked.

Shinsaibashi I said.

Do you need a lift?

I think I'd prefer to walk.

To be honest, this is the only point in the exchange when I felt my grasp of Japanese was insufficient to convey my meaning. What I wanted to say was, you just managed to run me over in a completely empty street through sheer incompetence. I dread to think what horrors may unfold in front of my eyes if I accept your well-intentioned offer.

"Yeah, hop in the back mate- he ran me over 10 minutes ago."

Do you have any injuries? he asked.

I beg your pardon?

Do you have any injuries?

No, I'm fine.

Once again, I'm very sorry.

No problem.

I propped my sadly-abused bike up outside the convenience store. None of the patrons spoke to me. I had become that most unwelcome phenomena in Japan, an abnormality, it would seem.

I'd had the bike for 18 months, nicknamed it "the blade" and left it out in the rain. It had once slipped its chain and nearly pitched me headlong into moving traffic at one of Osaka's busiest junctions, but, when the time came, it took a bullet for me.

I locked it (a token gesture), hefted my bag and started walking. Guilt for the survivor.

Thereafter, my evening improved. Andrew gave me 8000 yen and didn't run me over at all. He criticised me for not negotiating a decent settlement from the guy, but I had 5 notes to get drunk with from my escapade. Right there and then, that seemed like plenty.

shit, i'd have my bike run over for five thousand yen. consider yourself lucky, schmuck.
I would have taken the 10,000 with no questions asked.

And I would have taken the lift.


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on BlogShares