Noilly Prattle: when you're thrown from a horse . . .

Monday, August 24, 2015

when you're thrown from a horse . . .

     It's an old saw, but when you are thrown from a horse, folk wisdom dictates that you get right back on . . . to avert an irrational fear of riding again.

     This is not about horses with four legs, but the kind under the hood of a car, a car that was sideswiped in a road accident, my car, and my fault; my attention was distracted and I missed seeing a stop sign—too late to prevent the car coming at us from the passenger side from hurtling into us. The sickening sound of such an impact is impossible to describe and the instinct, as the car fills with smoke, screams to get out as quickly as possible.

     Then you see the shambles that was your beautiful automobile sitting forlornly in the middle of the road. The car seems to be in shock as much as you are. The rest is waiting for the ambulance, the police, the fire trucks; it's the incessant noise of endless questions; it's the buzzing in your head that says: “We are fucked!”--1300 miles from home and now no wheels and travel plans in shreds.

      This is not about being thrown from the horse, but about getting back on again, if not this horse, then, for a while, other ones. Our mare, a Mazda Demio 1.3 liter (we nicknamed her “Demi” because the GPS speaks with a patient and polite female voice), can be repaired and restored to its pre-collision condition we were assured by the repair shop owner, and she will be shipped back to our home in a month or two.

     Our son arrived on time at the airport, where we were supposed to meet him, soon after the accident. We called and asked him to take a taxi to the hospital that was treating Road Buddy for her non-life threatening injuries. I myself appeared to be unhurt (I felt a soreness in my chest later on where the seat belt had restrained me). I waited for him in the lobby and explained the situation. He was calm and supportive. The police required me to stay in town until they determined whether there would be a personal injury claim against me so we had to stay in a hotel in town. Since Road Buddy (our Japanese speaker) was being examined our son called the hotel and calmly and efficiently made arrangements since my Japanese isn't good enough to handle complex issues on a phone.

our rented Nissan K-car
     After all the examinations and questions were settled we took a taxi to the hotel. The next morning, the police called and said that no personal injury charges would be filed against me, I wouldn't lose my driver's license, and we were free to leave town, he said. We decided to continue the next few days of our planned trip with our son in a rented car. We had to stop off at the repair shop to make arrangements for the Mazda and planned to rent a car near the hotel. We walked out in the rain and checked the rental agencies, but not one of them had a car available. Blocked on that front, we took a taxi to the repair shop. We got a very positive feeling from the owner who assured us that the car was not as bad as I had thought and could be repaired—at a cost of at least $4000...all covered by insurance. We were more than a little relieved. On an off chance we asked the shop people if they could loan us a replacement vehicle for a few days. They said they could arrange a rented car from the airport (they apparently had a connection—it's nice to know people).
     In due time a light blue K-car (650 cc) arrived, we transferred what gear we had left in the navy blue Mazda and, a little shakily at first, I got behind the wheel and we drove off, a trifle over-cautiously at first, on the next leg of our planned trip, a couple days in the Shiretoko Peninsula region of eastern Hokkaido—in the deep north of Japan. Japan's irredenta, the Northern Islands, lie just off the coast of eastern Hokkaido. They have been occupied by Russia since the end of World War II and remain a bone of contention between the two nations. 

Shiretoko Peninsula in winter with Sea of Okhotsk soft ice flow

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