So my last Friday was a little nuts. I’ll start with the little things and then give the big whopper of a story at the end.
Friday is usually a light day for me. I teach one fifth grade class and one sixth grade class and then eat lunch with one or the other. In my 5th grade class, we were going over introducing yourself to someone with a phrase like “Hi, My name is Tito. Nice to meet you” and have the student reciprocate. Near the end of the class, I made up a simple game of catch where one kid start’s with saying “What’s your name?” and throws the ball to another kid in the room who responds. Then the student with the ball repeats the question to another student while tossing it to them. Well, a little girl (one of my quieter ones) in the class was the 2nd or 3rd person to catch and she stood up, started to attempting her sentence and then froze up. I saw the tears welling up in her eyes and she peeped out, “I don’t know!”. Now if I had any kind of kryptonite, it’d be a crying kid. I darted across the room right as she responded said nervously, “Ah, just throw the ball to someone else!”. She chucked the ball, put her head down into her arms (luckily someone caught it) and the game continued. Thankfully, for the second round where we responded to “How are you?”, she did MUCH better and was happier. Phew… crisis averted.
So the rest of class went fine. That little girl sat next to me during school lunch and she seemed to be doing pretty good. So after school, I had to jet off and get my car’s winter tires changed to spring tires and then head across town to get my work permit processed. I had to hurry because I wasn’t sure what time their office closed and I didn’t want to miss it this time (after having just the day before trekking all the way to the office and forgot to bring my passport!). Then something terrible happened (which I’ll get to) which ended up slowing me down. I ended up getting to the office at 4:15, but the lights were partially on (maybe they’re open?) and only one teller window was open. I held my breathe and walked up to the counter and hoped their office wasn’t as brutal as the Japanese BMV, I ended up seeing the same lady that I saw yesterday and she had a bit of a puzzled expression. She said that their office has closed at 4pm and they were sending out mail right now, BUT she said that this was a special situation and she would process my work permit (Wooo HOO!) That was a huge weight off my shoulders there. So I waited and got my permit processed.
So what happened that made me late to get to the office? Well… it was certainly terrible and for obvious reasons, I haven’t fully disclosed information about the LOCATION, just in case. Anyways, I was driving through downtown when my GPS chimed and said “You have reached your destination”. To which I said, “Bullshit, I know this isn’t where the building is.” I glanced over at my map, unbeknownst to the light changing ahead of me. When I glanced up, I saw the Red and had to slam on my brakes. Luckily for this reason, in Japan, the speed limits are ridiculously slow. I was going about 25km-ph and had to fully brake. Keep in mind that’s only about 15 mph, so I only went a few feet into the intersection. Looking in the rearview mirror, I see no cars behind me so I decide to backup. As I tried to hastily get out of the cross walk, I put my car in reverse and started backing up. That’s when I hear a ‘THUMP’ and I see a grey mass of hair disappearing from my rear view mirror. Let’s pause for a second to get a full grasp of my though process here…
OMG, WHAT THE HECK WHAT THAT!? DID I JUST RUN OVER SOMEBODY!? OH nonononononono! Shit!
Immediately, I hopped out of my car (and a bit carelessly) to see what happened. Imagining the worse, there I saw an old Japanese lady recovering her balance on her bicycle that she tried walking across the street, now with a dented shopping basket. Immediately, I started bowing and saying “Gomennasai!” (a formal apology) several times and asking “Daijoubu desu ka?”. She said ‘Hai’ several times and I pointed to a spot across the intersection and told her I was going there.
So I get across the street to meet her. I ask her again “Are you okay?” (in Japanese) and she says “Yes”. Then I ask, “how much is the bicycle basket?” Too which she says “No thanks”. I ask her again once more to make sure we’re on the same level and she says “Iie” (no) again. I even offer to help bend the basket back into its original shape (it was just wire). Now in Japan, it is customary to offer something to someone three times. I don’t know the founding behind this rule, but it is a VERY important one for etiquette. So I ask, one more time before I decide to leave her be and then she says immediately… “Sanzen nanahyaku en” (3700 yen). This was my thought process…
What the hell? Where the hell did 3700yen come from? Damn, I was so close to getting out of this! ::Looking in my wallet:: Fuck, I don’t have exact change. Should I ask her to break a 5000yen note? Fuck it, just give 5000yen to her and hope she is happy. Hopefully, she won’t sue.
So then the lady takes my money and walks off on her bicycle to a store that I suspect that she was trying to go to. I apologies again while bowing several times and retreat back to my car. I get into the parking lot and call my office to make sure I don’t need to do anything else. Fortunately, they told me that I’ll be alright if what they told me was accurate (which it is, but I think they can’t officially give me legal advice).
So that was it. I made a 5000yen mistake that set me off schedule, but it still didn’t make me miss getting my work permit. I kinda have this mind set that everything that happens in this word is a life lesson, so make sure that you learn from it. I’ll definitely be watching for old ladies trying to throw their bicycles behind my car from now on!
Oh and also, because I was behind schedule, I missed getting to a brewery before it closed that I passed on my way to the city. Damn you, old lady… (please don’t sue me).