Sunday, February 5, 2012


I’ll start this post off, by saying I’m ok. 私は元気です。

You probably realize something not so happy is coming after that.

The short version of the story is yesterday I hit some ice, lost control of my car and it’s pretty badly damaged. But, as I addressed before, I’m ok.

For the longer version of the story, read on.

Last week a friend had come out and so we did a bit of shopping, went to an onsen and rented movies. I had exactly a week to watch them and return them. Meaning, they were due on Saturday.

When Saturday rolled around, I was tired and let myself sleep in. I decided I’d go to the movie store after boarding with some students (which was awesome and I intend to blog about it later). Off I went, with a mug of chai in one hand and a purse in the other.

Though we’d had a pretty good blizzard while my students and I were boarding, the weather had cleared up. The roads in my area and the farm-y next bit were perfect.

When I got to the forest-y bit of the drive, the weather turned horrible again. It was snowing so badly that the visibility was really low and the cars ahead of me were kicking up tons of snow. I got through that just fine and after the forest-y bit of the drive it was pretty good weather again. Because of this I took the back road into town, instead of the slow road filled with lights.

I realized that when other cars drove past, I would suddenly lose visibility and suddenly. So I kept pretty close to the speed limit – 60k (around 35mph). Not fast by any means.

Along that road, my car slipped and suddenly wasn’t going straight any more (this was a long, straight road). Instead, I was headed across the other lane and for the snow covered fields on the other side. I tried to slow down, but my car wasn’t to be deterred. I saw the power pole coming, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Thoughts flashed through my mind of what the outcome might be of this one.

I hit on the left passenger side, right about the same place as that wheel and did a 180. My car stopped facing the road. I turned on my hazard lights, in hopes that someone would stop, as people have every time

I’ve gotten myself into a snow jam.

I decided it was time to get out and see how bad the damage was. I couldn’t open my door. I decided to crawl out the window, because sitting and not knowing was going to make me even more nervous about what happened.

Outside I discovered that my door was just jammed in the snow my car had jammed itself into. I walked around to the other side. I found that I had smashed in the panel above the wheel and the wheel was at about a 30-45 degree angle. I didn’t know whether my wheels were turned so I wasn’t sure whether to be worried or not yet.

After sitting there for a minute I finally managed to wave someone down from within the car – surprisingly a few cars passed. That car and one more stopped to help. The guys who got out called the police for me, gave a description of where I was and passed on my number. Then they headed off.

I waited. When L texted me back from my “please pray” text. I decided to call and talk to a familiar voice. L was good company in something like this. She has a super calming voice and wouldn’t let me regret what would happen, with all of my “if only I had done . . . instead” comments, she came back with you never know when these things might happen.

After a few minutes on the phone with her I saw emergency lights getting closer and closer. Suddenly, about a quarter mile from where I was, they stopped. Then another one came. I didn’t know why they weren’t coming, but I could only imagine something worse had happened on the road.

After about 25 minutes on the phone with L, I decided I needed to call the police and see what was happening. L looked up the numbers for me and I was about to get off when another car pulled over. It was another guy who seemed to have a car full of people. This time though, when he spoke, I realized I knew the voice (he was wearing glasses that I’ve never seen). He’s one of the men in my eikaiwa and his family (all of whom I teach at eikaiwa or elementary school), the S family, were in the car.

He and I talked for a few minutes, when the tow truck showed up. The tow truck guy helped me out of the car and then suggested I wait with the S family in the car. I discovered that his kids who I adore were in the back. Mrs. S asked me what had happened and I told her.

As I was telling her, the phone rang, it was the police, telling me there had been an accident down the road and they’d be along soon (probably 40 minutes after they had been called).

The tow truck looked at it for a while, but I suspect they weren’t allowed to do anything until the police came, since they were called. They came a few minutes later.

The police man climbed into the car (he was invited) and took my name and info and then asked me questions. Mrs. S helped for the bits of Japanese I didn’t understand.

After he left, Mrs. S told me she’d call a name I didn’t recognize at the BOE. Just as she was telling me this, my supervisor Mrs. K called. Mrs. S took the phone and explained what happened in Japanese for me. 

Then they finally began to pull my car out. Initially it was thought I’d be able to drive my car, but when they pulled it out, it was increasingly obvious that the tire was not in the direction it should have been. It turns out that the hit not only damaged that panel but my axle as well.

The S family followed the tow truck and my car to the shop in the big town. We retrieved my stuff and a few things I thought I might need in the next week. I left loads of stuff in my car and figured I’d get it out later.

The mechanic estimated it costing 50-60 man ($5-6,000) to fix it. Mrs. S said something about insurance and when I said I didn’t think it covered my car, she said Mrs. K had said something. I’m not sure what will be the result of that, but I’ll find out tomorrow at school.

In the end the S family stayed with me through the ordeal with the tow truck and then to take my videos back (most expensive video rental ever!) and to grab something to eat (I had expected to eat dinner in Furano and it was past 9 pm at this point).

The funniest part of the whole thing is that during the combini food stop, Mrs. S and I headed in, walked past the mat for wiping your feet and hit a wet spot, I could see her lose her balance and couldn’t do anything as I lost mine too. We both went down on the floor hard.

After the whole thing we drove back into town together. I’m so thankful that God provided someone to help me with all the Japanese and all the details. I’m not sure I could have explained what had happened or done any of it as well as the S family helped me with it.

2012-02-04 Snowy Drive  011