Friday, August 1, 2014

Raquel got hit by a car in Japan

“It’s been a week of firsts. An old woman yelled at me in the grocery store, and I was hit by car. But don’t worry the old woman didn’t hurt my feelings.”
I was lying in bed, listening to Raquel talk to her parents. She had an evil grin on her face.
“Vidas, what happened?”
“We were carrying our groceries in our hands, and this old woman started yelling at us. I think she was saying we were going to get sick if the meat got warm.”
I heard Raquel’s father agree, yes, she should use a basket, but her mom was not so easily distracted.
“Raquel, are you ok?”
“Yeah I’m fine. We were leaving work on our bicycles, and I was crossing the street when a car hit the front of my bicycle. I’m not hurt or anything. My knee’s just a little scraped.”
An understatement for my most terrifying moment in Japan. Raquel’s fine, so I guess I should let it rest, but it was not as fun as she makes it sound. It was around 9pm, and we had just left work. By some stroke of misfortune Raquel was crossing the street instead of me when a tiny pink hatchback rounded the curve and struck her.
“Oh shit a car!” she yelled before the pink monstrosity smashed into her bicycle and I watched in horror as the love of my life fell to the asphalt. There’s nothing worse than watching someone you love get hurt right in front of you. There she was, an arm’s length away, and in that instant there was nothing I could do. I’d failed her, the only person I’m supposed to protect. All I could do was see if she was hurt.  
I threw my bike to the ground and ran to her.
“Are you OK?”
She was. She didn’t even look disoriented. “I’m fine!” She yelled, way too loud. OK so she was a little shaken up. I led her out of the street, sat her down, glanced at the crosswalk light (it was just starting to blink green, Raquel had definitely had the right of way), retrieved our bicycles and stared down the pink car, daring it keep driving. I was ready to chase it down and rip the driver’s door off the hinges.
But that wasn’t necessary. The driver stopped and ran over to us. She was a young woman already yelling “sumimasen!” Damn straight she was. You better say sorry after you hit my wife. I considered murder. Surely in Japan they didn’t practice the death penalty. Lucky for her, an old couple came out of their home and explained they saw the whole thing (at least I think they did, my nonexistent Japanese skills were worse than usual). “Hospital?” They asked, “police?” I checked Raquel again. She’d turned white as rice and was sitting against the fence. I checked her for wounds but she was fine, just a scrape.
“No hospital,” I said. I just wanted to get her home. I checked her bicycle. The front wheel wouldn’t turn, but with a little elbow grease I bent the fender back into place and it was good as new. The dent in the pink car’s bumper wouldn’t fix so easily.  These bikes must be American made, I found myself thinking. We could take the bikes, but Raquel didn’t look so good. I looked back to the school we work at, but our coworker and English lifeline had just left. We were on our own.
“Raquel, do you want a ride?” I figured if we were inside the woman’s car, we’d be safer. But Raquel hopped up, her brush with death forgotten.
“I feel a lot better. We should walk the bikes home. I’m hungry,” I nodded. That’s my wifey, tough as nails, but ruled by her stomach.
The older couple wouldn’t let us go. They were giving the driver a stern talking to on our behalf and didn’t want to let her off the hook so easily.
No, we’re English teachers. Eigo-sensei I pointed at the school. They nodded, and asked when we’d be working tomorrow. I wondered if they wanted to explain what had happened to someone who wasn’t as nonsensical as us two carefree Americans, but no, he looked at the driver. She looked about as unsure as us about what to do.
“If hurt, call. Hospital.”
Yes. That seemed fair. I had her write her phone number down, and only then did the older couple relax, knowing this reckless banshee wouldn’t escape without punishment.
We walked home, Raquel jabbering away, “wow what if me and that woman become friends? Wouldn’t that be funny, if that’s how we met? Maybe she’ll teach me Japanese. People in Japan really are more observant about bicycles.”
Darling, you were just hit by a car.
“Yeah, but normally they’re really observant.”
Of course they are dear.  
Maybe Raquel’s right. People certainly are considerate here. The next day the woman came by our school with a gift for her victim, complete with Band-Aids, disinfectant and a mystery box.
“Look Joe, another first, my first Japanese style gift!” But she was too tired to open it when we got home. It sits on our coffee table, begging me to peak as I write this morning. Is it beer? Cookies? Juice? Perhaps laundry detergent? The Japanese have a thing for practical gifts, so I doubt it’s a kimono or a jigsaw puzzle. Whatever it is, we’ll probably use it. The gift won’t have time to be thrown away, or turn into a memento of the demonic driver. And as time goes by we’ll think more and more fondly of the assailant (especially if its beer).
As I ponder the mysterious box, Raquel snoozes on. I think her week of firsts finally caught up with her.
Don't worry dear readers. Raquel's fine! Sumo's coming next week, and as always, if you enjoyed this story, or are just glad my wife's OK, please +1 and share with your loved ones.


  1. Glad she's ok! What a freaking bad ass. Also, please report back on the box... "what's in the box??! What's in the box!!??"

    1. It was filled with tiny jars of fruit and hello. Sort of like what public school cafeterias serve.