Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Camel's Back

Yesterday morning I was just about on schedule when I left my apartment. Until my car wouldn't start. Lovely grating sound it made, instead. But the radio and fan still worked, so it couldn't be the battery, right? I checked the lights, and yep, I'd remembered to turn them off the night before. So I scratched my head, then ran back inside for my Japanese phrase book, called Kawasumi (my supervisor at the Nita BoE), and briefly explained what was up. ("The engine won't start," in Japanese—love that phrase book.) I figured he was the logical person to call, since I live in Nita. But he told me to call Tokue, all the way in Yokota. Okay, so I called Tokue; he'd helped me out before when my Check Engine light came on. He told me to take the train to school (I'm teaching in Yokota this week), and he'd help me out in the afternoon. One last call to Ikeda-sensei to tell her that I'd be an hour and a half late, and I was on my way. (I'm glad this all happened after I got my cell phone.)

So yesterday afternoon, Tokue stops by the school as promised, and picks up my keys. I asked if I should come with him (desperate as I was to escape paper correcting), but he said it was okay, and I should stay. He returned with another fellow from the BoE about forty-five minutes later and led me down to the car, which was waiting outside the school.

I'd been hoping that it wasn't some stupid problem, like I really had left the lights on all night, or something I could have solved in two minutes on my own if I'd known what to do... but I also wanted it to be a problem with a relatively simple solution. And that's exactly what it was. It was the battery, but it was really shot, and needed to be replaced. So, not something I could have done on my own, but something that took maybe an hour or two to fix. Nice.

<a great sigh> And a teacher just informed me that I'd left my small headlights on all morning. I had to run out in the rain to turn them off, but fortunately the car started.

Anyway, after another jump start after school (with the help of that Other Guy from the BoE, whose name I should make a point of learning, since he was such a big help), I got the car to Juntendo, where Other Guy selected the correct battery. I was glad it was one of the ones under 3,000 yen, not one of the ones over 12,000 yen. I had to leave the car idling in the parking lot. Then we drove to the BoE where he changed the battery, which was pretty quick. All better!

Sorry if this post is boring. My life is kind of boring. I mean, I'm in Japan, which is pretty cool, but after a couple of months it wears off, especially when you know you'll be here at least another ten months, and probably longer. When I was driving home from school Monday, I was listening to a radio station that sometimes plays classical music, and sometimes American music, and sometimes other foreign (read: not American or Japanese) music, and sometimes what sounds like NPR. Just before I got home, they put on James Taylor's "September Grass," which I'd never heard before, but it was just so... home, that I sat in the parking lot in front of my apartment and listened to the whole thing.

It couldn't have been more than three or four minutes that I sat there with the engine off and the radio playing, but maybe that's what finally killed the battery.
Oh well. It was worth it.

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