Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stop, Honk, Crash!

When I said I wanted to really experience living in Japan, I meant things like the culture, food, traveling, maybe even an onsen. I did not mean the process involved with getting into a fender-bender.

Monday after school Chris, Sami and I went to park in the parking garage at the grocery store on Rokko Island. We took our entry ticket and pulled into the lane to head to the area we always park. The car in front of us stopped so we did as well. She threw her car into reverse and started backing towards a parking spot (for some reason parking is always done backwards here) and the next thing I know she was getting really close to my car. I blew the horn and less than a second later CRASH. She had hit us.

Watching an "accident scene" here is always quite interesting and sometimes even amusing. Usually there are no less than 3 police cars and 6 policemen, all with clipboards and tape measures. From what I had always been told, doing a report is quite a lengthy process. So imagine my thoughts when I realized what had just happened.

Luckily (if there is something lucky about this) the women who hit my car spoke English. Had she not, I am not sure what I would have done. She told me we couldn't just exchange insurance information as we do for things like this in the states (yes I asked). She called the police and they showed up about 20 minutes later (I guess fender benders in parking garage isn't a high priority) and tried asking me what happened. My limited Japanese and world-champion charades didn't get me very far for my side of the story. Luckily the other woman was in a hurry so she somehow managed to get the policeman to not call in the tape measure reinforcements and he took the report and drew pictures himself. I had no idea what paperwork was our insurance card, nor the registration of the car, so I handed them a pile of folders and envelopes and prayed what they needed was inside one of them. The last thing I needed was to be hauled off to a Japanese jail, eating rice and drinking green tea until I was bailed out.

Over 90 minutes later, and a pile of fried chicken remains that I used to bribe the kids into being quiet, we were finally done playing charades, exchanging information and listening to a conversation that I had absolutely no idea what was being said. (Although my paranoid side said they were talking about me, especially when they looked my way and laughed) Needless to say my confidence in how well I thought I was doing learning the Japanese language took a serious hit.

Matt took the whole thing in stride. However he has yet to venture into the garage to see Betsy-Blue's injuries.  He may have a few more choice words when he does. And it was all I could do to keep Chris from posting my misfortune on his Facebook status.

To be honest I have no clue what happens now (or what happened during those 90 minutes). The insurance agent doesn't speak English so a translator called to get my information. Apparently it will take the police 10 to 14 days to write their report and assess the percentage of fault on each person. Japan has a "no-fault" rule, so no matter what happens, some of the fault will lie on each party. After that, it is back to playing charades to figure out what happens next.

So I guess this adventure is to be continued... 

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