Blast from the Past

As you might know, my mom was visiting us here in Japan for around two weeks. We talked a great many things, of course.

One if the things we discussed was how I used to go much more into my specific “Japan” adventures when I first arrived, and how I should one day write up a more Japan specific book.

She then told me about her favorite story of those days.

And, because very few things ever die on the internet, I looked up that long forgotten blog post about how I got a fee car three months after arriving in Japan. Reposted for that old blog. Originally written on October 2004.

I never told the story of how I got my car. Because I have a car and the story of how I got it is a kind of amusing little rant with an uplifting ending. And it all happened the thursday before I tried to go to Mt. Fuji. So I think that makes it September 9th or something like that. 

When I first arrived in Gunma, one of the older ALTs was selling a car for her friend that had left the country. The car was pretty cheap, about 6 hundred, so I thought I’d take a look, and so did someone else. The car is a stick-shift, and despite not being very familar with sticks the other girl was willing to buy the car on the spot. I wasn’t in that much of a hurry so she got the car. A few weeks later word makes its way to me that the car has been returned. I get in touch with Liz, the car’s keeper, she says the car is back on the market but there is a catch. The timing motor is out of whack, the car needs 200dollars in repairs, but the new price is $300. I say I’ll do it if the car checks out. We try to make plans (she lives about 45minutes away,) she never calls. Then I get an email saying that the car is free, just someone (me or another girl Liz had recently talked to about the car) needed to pick it up over the weekend. I wanted this car. In four days I was starting at Umeda with is far and up a hill. I wanted the car and told her so, but unfortunately that Saturday I had to be in Tokyo, I couldn’t meet her, but I could see her on Sunday. Liz said she’d call back. When she did it was to explain that my only option was to come that night, or she’d give the car to the other person. 

So, that night, the moment I’m done at work, a start journeying. And the journey sucks. I can’t make it to Maebashi until after 7, and after 7 apparently I can’t get rides to the peoples houses I’m supposed to go. I have to change trains based on the directions of a person who doesn’t know where she’s going. I’ll explain this. Liz is selling the car for a friend, but she can’t have the car at her house, so its somewhere else. Liz doesn’t know how to get to Courtney’s house where the car is being kept) So, the directions I’m given are both bad, and they keep changing. In the end the only reason I find where I’m going is due to the kindness of strangers. But before I get to that I’ll highlight some great moments on the trip: 4)Finding out while I’m on the train that the plans have changed and need to go to another station, and the person giving me directions doesn’t know how to get there (thank goodness I can speak just enough to ask people to help me) 3)I’m told to take a taxi. In the taxi I learn the direction are bad. When I phone Liz, I’m told to go back to the sataion where I caught the taxi in the first place (Even the cab driver was shocked at that one) And now for my two favorites 2)When I’m about to call Courtney for directions, Liz tells me she feels bad about interrupting Courtney’s Japanese lesson(by the way her tutor is the same guy helping us get the car fixed, so he knows all about it) 1) and since Liz felt bad for Courtney she wanted me to get back on the train, go to her (Liz’s) house and she would drive me to Courtney’s. 

At this point I also found out it was only a ten minute from the station I was at to Courtney’s. I decided to walk and was given bad directions yet again. At this point it was funny. And now its time for the uplifting segment. So, I’m kinda lost in the middle of, basically, nowhere. I see two high school kids (one walking, one on a bike) and ask them how to get to the landmarks I’vew been told about. They don’t know, but they ask me to wait a moment. The kid on the back flies off in the other direction, about 4 minutes later he comes back with excellent directions for where I’m going, and even manages to explain in a way where I can understand. Then the boys ask if I want them to come with me. I thank them, tell them I’m ok, thank them again, and start walking. I go forward, they go left. A little bit later the kid on the bike comes riding towards me, he shoves his bike in my hands, tells me he’s on the basketball team and needs to run so I should ride his bike to where I’m going and he’ll keep up. I try to tell him I’m ok, but soon realize I can either ride the bike or be really rude, so I start riding. I’m much taller than he is. My knees are coming up to my chin, the kid is jogging beside me, we’re making small talk. 5 blocks later we find where I’m going, and the other kid is waiting for us. Which means they must have took the back way to get there, so they wouldn’t embarass me by scouting ahead. After making sure I know where I am they go home, which I’m pretty sure was right next to where I first talk to them. Whether the went out of their way because they are that nice, or because here I’m pretty exotic, who knows. 

But I made it to Courtney’s, got the car and got home. So it was a learning experience. So, that’s how I got my lavender 95 Mitsubishi Mirage. 

Yes, part of the reason I am posting this is that all of my at home energy is being placed into the care of my newborn. Have some sympathy, please.

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