Friday, April 20, 2012

More Car Woes

I suppose I should be thankful that I have not had any car accidents yet while living in Japan. But after the parking ticket debacle from the other day (see previous post), I really did not need what happened yesterday. Here's how things unfolded:

I got off work around 4:45 and went to my car to drive home. I love driving to and from work now. Driving home to an apartment where someone is waiting for me, someone will greet me, and I can spend time with my best friend and wife, WOW! The drive home is one of anticipation.

But this day, I was not able to drive home right away. I pulled my car out of its spot, and started to make the 3-point turn to head back towards home. Music on, I hit the gas pedal but the car didn't feel right. Immediately I knew what it was: flat tire.

I got out of the car, and sure enough, from driver's side tire was completely flat. So I pulled over to get out of others' way, and changed the tire. My spare was a little flat too, but I didn't notice that. Anyways, 30 minutes later, dirty suit and hands and all, I drove off, hoping to find a gas station that could help me fix my tire.

So I wheeled into a gas station and the guy said, "No, I can't help you... we only do gas, and it's only self-serve." So he pointed me to another gas station down the road. They checked my tire and told me, "Your tire is damaged as such that it cannot be repaired. It needs to be replaced."

Great. So now the ¥1,000 I was hoping to get away with would turn into at least ¥7,000 or more. Not happy. "So, how much will it cost?" I asked them. "Well, it depends on the quality of tire. But we do not have any tires in your size here." And with that, they pointed me to a car shop down the road.

So anyhow, now I have to drive another 10 minutes to that shop on my spare tire. But whatever. I'm just getting hungry and a little frustrated is all. So I get to the next garage, and they tell me, "Well, you had all-weather (studless) tires on your car, and if you change only one tire, your car will be off-balance. You need to change all 4." So NOW I'm thinking, this is nuts. It's not like the tires on my car were bad at all! But I had to get rid of them after having bought them just 18 months prior?

Overall damage: I'd rather not say, but let's just say I ended up paying a little more than I had originally anticipated. It's not like I severely punctured the one tire, or that I did it on purpose, or that there was any major impact that caused the puncture.

So defeated, I drove home. I talked to my wife as I left the garage, and she could tell I was feeling down. Her voice was very sympathetic, and she said she would start making dinner. Ah, what a comfort. Dinner. Someone is cooking dinner for me. What a treat! So I started to lift my countenance, thinking, it's not all bad. I'm still alive. Maybe the new tires are a good thing. And God will turn this all into a blessing in the end.

So I get home, and start to back my car into my tiny parking stall. Not parking spot, but parking stall. And just as I have every day for the past 20 or so, I backed in with extreme care. Still, I felt like I was a little too close to the edge. And when I got out of my car, sure enough, I had scratched the back of the car a little. ARGH. Frustrated, I stood up to get in my car and position it a little better. CLANG. I banged my head before getting in my car, tears starting to well up in my eyes.

But the blessing is that I got perspective. It's just money, and in a few months, I'll forget that I had to put new tires on my car because the parking lot at school is not adequately paved. It'll all be in the past.

Still, this month has not been a happy one for my car.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh, Japan...

I'll be honest with you. I need encouragement these days. Especially about living in Japan. There are just so many things that are on my mind right now, and I cannot share them all, but I will say that the strictness in this country sometimes drives me crazy.

We are renting an apartment but we cannot even put up a calendar or family (or wedding) pictures on the wall, because we are not allowed "to put holes in the walls." So the whole place is white-walled right now, and while that isn't all that bad, I wish we could put more things up. Sigh.
The other one is what happened to me last week... one careless mistake, one small parking violation, and my "perfect record" is blemished for 8 years. That is crazy. If you live in Japan, you know how hard it is to drive 8 years without accidents or violations, too.

Ah well, I am here, I guess I ought to make the best of it. And the good news is that my ¥15,000 fine for parking in the wrong place, it will go to the country's national treasury, which will then go towards rebuilding northeastern Japan (where the tsunami and nuclear plant meltdowns occurred). So my bad parking job is serving as a way to "make" me contribute. I don't mind that part of it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Happy things

As I took the steering wheel in my hands, something felt different. Oh, hello wedding band! I remember now as my ring finger (along with my entire left hand) grips the wheel, that I am driving for two now. More responsibility, yes. But more joy when driving, for sure!

When my cell phone rings and her name now shows up with my family name attached to it, I tend to do double-takes. First, because of the above (a new addition to the Raichura family). Second, because the name that used to be in kanji is now in English. Weird, a little. Comforting and exciting, absolutely!