Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hit By A Car

Today after lunch I had to run an errand to the post office. Once a month I have to go to the main post office in the downtown area. I let the Kocho-sensei and Kyoto-sensei know that I was leaving and would be back soon.

So I peddled off and headed to the post office. There are several routes to take to get to the post office from my school, but I usually stick to the very narrow roads where only pedestrians and two-wheelers can travel as it generally is the safest way to go. Turns out that bit of logic might not be as sound as I once had thought.

Whilst riding at a normal pace, thinking about what I needed to get done at the post office, I quickly realized how truly unsound my thinking had been. I had not gotten far from my school, maybe a half a kilometer, when it happened. I don't know why she didn't see me. It's not like I am a tiny little man or anything.

I got side-swiped by a 4-door Diahatsu kei-car (軽自動車), kei being a vehicle with less than a 660cc engine and meeting certain tiny dimensions, loaded up with a mother, her baby, and a granny. The mother was driving, the baby and granny were strapped up in the back seat and I got a real up close and personal look at the interior of the vehicle.

The woman just blew through an intersection that I just happened to be peddling through. It happened in an instant, and I didn't have a second to react. Her car skidded right into the left side of my whole body, slamming into my bicycle, and I, being a hefty American, held my ground and somehow managed not to fall down. I just sort of impacted the car and took the entire force without being knocked down or falling.

At first I was stunned. I just got hit by a car which turned out to be my first accident in Japan. I didn't know how to react for a micro-second. So I just sat there looking. I remember now hearing the crunch of the car slamming into me and seeing the look of terror in the mother's eyes. She looked so terrified, much like an animal you'd see on National Geographic in the jaws of some beasty predator.

Suddenly I wheeled by startled and shaking body around to the side of the car, checked my knees and arms, gave my bike a once over and then I told the mother and granny that I was fine. I said it was no problem. They asked me if I was sure and I said, "No worries." I then peddled off and they continued on their way.

Later I noticed that the front tire on my bike was a bit wobbly but it's nothing major. I might take it down to the shop where I bought it and see if the owner can repair it if it even needs to be repaired. I went ahead to the post office and while there called my wife and told her about what had happened. She asked me if I was all right and I said I was fine. I was very lucky that the lady wasn't driving an old clunker made from some 60s era steel, or wasn't driving wrecklessly. She was speeding but not too aggressively and that's what saved me from injury, prevented my bicycle from being crumpled and left her car unscathed.

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