Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Humiliating Japanese Driving Experience #2

In Tsukuba (and maybe other places in Japan as well), they had a unique way of separating the sidwalk from the street. Instead of having the sidewalk raised up a bit from the road, it was all on the same level in places. Then, they used tall stones to make a "curb" of sorts to slow down cars that get too close to the edge. Unfortunately, I never thought to take a picture of this. To make an entry to a parking lot, they simply don't put those stones there. These "entrances" are significantly smaller than anything you see in the US, mainly because most of the cars there are much smaller.

So, on the day in question, I am driving the J Odyssey. It has less than 1000 km on it. We had some American friends who needed a ride to do some shopping (yay!!! Witness to my humiliation! I LOVE that). I realize that we overshot our turn, and turn into a small parking lot so I can turn around. The road is so narrow (more so than my driveway now) that a U-turn is unthinkable. I go to turn back out onto the road, and cut it a little too tight (I was afraid of going too far into the oncoming lane of traffic). Alas, I cut it way too tight, and I'd gunned the car because the road was quite busy.

oh oh. The car isn't going, and the back end is up a little higher. I get out to look, and discover one of those stones is right before the back tire. The back tire isn't even touching the ground. We are well and truly stuck. To make matters even better, I am blocking BOTH lanes of traffic to one of the 5 busiest roads in the Tsukuba area. I look in the back of the car, and there's no jack.

I ran into the nearest store. The poor guy working there doesn't speak a lick of English, and he has this wild eyed, crying, visibly pregnant woman talking excitedly to him. I finally get him to look out the window, and he immediately sees the problem. He happens to have a car jack (and this was a copy store of some sort, so the fact he had a car jack was a minor miracle).

He helps me jack the car up and move the stone. We get the stone out of the road. By this time, there are over 100 cars waiting patiently.

Thank goodness the car was fine and I was able to go on my way. The lady I was giving a ride to was terribly sympathetic- she refused to drive at all for the time they lived there. But, I have to admit I was somewhat relieved that she was leaving the country, never to be seen by us again a couple days later.

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