Panda gets run over by a car

The day started like any other day – rainy clouds covering the entirety of the sky, gloomy teachers shuffling their way around the staffroom, bored-out-of-his-mind panda desperately trying to avoid stabbing himself with a straw while playing human tape recorder to the disinterested, disaffected student masses – so on and so forth.
The scene of the crime. Looks so innocent right now, doesn’t it?
Around 2:15, panda finishes his last class and hops on his bike to go home, where he takes a quick nap, texts his friend to harass her for a while, makes a few business-related phone calls, and then takes a look outside. By some miracle of divine providence, he is shocked to discover that the sun has emerged from behind the heavy veil of hanging storm clouds and the sky has turned a brilliant shade of blue peppered with striated cloud patterns stretching as far as the eye can see – gorgeous weather to end an otherwise non descript day.
Thusly inspired by the beauty soaring above him in the heavens, and motivated by a) the desire to feel the sun on his skin after several days of overcast wetness and b) the intense hunger growling in his stomach, panda decides to hop on his bike and set out to the local supermarket to grab something to eat for dinner.
An artist rendering of the evening’s tragic turn of events.
So panda is cycling down the sidewalk to the store – a distance of about 4 blocks – looking around, inhaling that after-the-rain fresh smelling air, aimlessly whistling some merry panda tune in his head (because he can’t whistle in real life) when he starts crossing the wide portion of sidewalk that lies between the street and a pachinko parlor parking lot. Out of the corner of his eye, he notices a rather large white van piloted by two young japanese ladies hurtling out of the driveway towards the sidewalk at a rather alarming speed.
“My” thinks panda, “those girls sure don’t seem to be looking where they’re going…!”
and with that, he dimly remembers starting to squeeze the brake handles. . .
For a split second, everything was a jumble of white car hood, flying pieces of bicycle, a streak of blue sky, a slow motion image of my feet – curiously set against what i swear appears to be some clouds and rooftops – arcing across my field of vision, and the muted sound of someone who sounded an awful lot like myself saying something to the effect of “shit…!”.
Thanks to the miracles of modern science, I have for you, gentle readers, a super advanced (read: thrown together in 10 minutes and it shows) technical recreation of what happened next:
animation of panda’s tragic encounter with a speeding car
This just about sums it up. Oh, and adobe image ready blows.
The next thing I know, I’m laying on what appears to be the road – a quick glance to the side at oncoming traffic rapidly approaching confirms that – in not exactly what I would call “pain”, but definitely feeling somewhat less than genki – and with my bicycle and my legs forming a curious metal-panda pretzel. Also, I note, my bicycle bell appears to be laying next to my face.
Thinking quickly with the survival instincts that my on-the-verge-of-extinction species is known for, I untangle my (thankfully unbroken) legs from the bicycle, scramble to my feet and drag myself and my two wheeled panda peddler out of the road and onto the sidewalk, where i sort of sit there on my hands and knees for a second, looking at the concrete and wondering to myself “holy shit, did I just get hit by a car?”
But as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait, by and by, my little internal monologue happened to be interrupted by the hurried click clicking of boots to my left and as i sort of stumble up, I turn and see a young Japanese girl – probably no more than 20 – running up to me, her face drained of color and an impressive shade of pale white most of her peers would kill for.
“Are you okay…!?” she asks, while waving her hands back and forth in what I presume is supposed to be a soothing manner (perhaps she thought me to be some manner of feral animal?) but which instead made the pain in the back of my head slightly more nauseating.
“umm… i think so” I reply. “Did you just hit me with your car?” At this point, I hear more click-clacking and her friend runs over towards the two of us, her face as white as the girl in front of me. Suddenly she sees that I’m a foreigner, and stumbles as she misses a step and her face gets almost impossibly paler (an impressive feat, let me assure you).
They then begin to apologize profusely and commence with even more well intentioned frantic hand waving, at which point something clicks in the back of my spinning panda brain and I recall reading somewhere about how in Japan, when people get into an accident, they are supposed to apologize as sincerely and as much as possible, regardless of who is at fault (unlike the states where we are strongly advised to avoid any sort of possibly incriminating statements whatsoever). Thus, not really knowing what else to do, and slightly hypnotized by the flurry of fluttering hands in front of me (they had started sort of trying to fan air on me, I guess), I start bowing and apologizing as well.
Actually, it doesn’t look so bad here, but keep in mind that a) the front wheel is bent so badly the bike can’t stand upright, b) this pic is *after* I tried my best to bend and reattach stuff back in place, and c) the derailleur / gears are pretty badly messed up.
“No, no, are you okay? Are you hurt?” I ask, motioning towards the pair, which fortunately appeared to have escaped any sort of serious injury from my hurtling body, encased in a ton and a half of steel, as they were.
“I’m so sorry…!” I begin to repeat “…. for… uhh…. hitting your car with my body … err, bicycle.”
Anyway, we all keep bowing and apologizing for another minute or so until eventually one of them inquires about my mangled bicycle, laying in a heap on the sidewalk, at which point I realize I have absolutely no idea what to do now. A quick glance at my previous mode of transportation makes it obvious that I’ll be walking for the foreseeable future.
“No, I’m afraid it’s pretty badly mangled” I reply, searching for an appropriate translation for “my bike is fucked” before settling on “chotto kowarechatta” (lit. “it’s a little broken, unfortunately”). “How about your car?” I ask.
We walk over to the car, where I am shocked (but secretly more than a little proud) to see a pretty sizeable series of dents on the hood and side of the car where my body (and head, I believe, judging from the size and position of the smaller round dent a little ways up from the main impact) collided with the vehicle. I remember being amazed by the amount of damage just one poor little panda on a bicycle had done, and thinking to myself that there’s no way in hell the occupants of such a vehicle could survive a crash with another vehicle moving at any significant velocity*.
*(a word of explanation. In Japan, cars are classified differently than back in the states (for a variety of purposes, amongst them taxation and shakken (annual inspection) assessment). In addition to the familiar trucks/SUVs vs. cars division, there are also divisions based on engine/car size which are reflected in the type of license plate issued. The smallest (and therefore generally the cheapest, and least likely to survive any major accident), cars are issued yellow license plates, though since this classification depends on a variety of factors, “yellow plate cars” can range from the tiniest one seater of K-cars all the way to a fairly sizeable minivan like vehicle, such as the one that struck me. As you can see from the pictures, despite having a yellow plate, this wasn’t exactly a toy car! Nonetheless, it goes without saying that had I been struck in the same fashion by a large truck or SUV, I probably would not be sitting here right now blithely babbling on about the intricacies of Japanese auto classifications. To wit: I was lucky as hell it was a yellow plate and not a bigger, heavier vehicle.)
An example of yellow-plate van similar to the one that struck panda.
After we have had a chance to stare at the damage our collision has wrecked on both sides, I realize that since the two girls had no idea what to do (and were more shaken than I was, or so it would appear) I needed to solicit help from someone more knowledgeable than ourselves, and called up my supervisor at work, beginning with that famous opener that I’m sure all JET supervisors just love to hear their ALTs say:
“umm, yeah, so I’ve just been in an accident…”
Anyway, long story short, after some (curiously detached) consultation with my supervisor, the driver and I sort out an exchange of information and reach the mutual consensus that since I wasn’t seriously injured (just a few bumps and bruises), there was no need to get the police involved (to be honest, I felt really sorry for her, as she seemed terrified – her hands were shaking so much when she was talking on the phone with my supervisor that the antenna on her keitai was quivering like a rabid racoon) (err….), and instead they will just pay for the repair of my bicycle, though in reality, judging from the mess that has been made of the gears and derailleur, (along with the frame and front fork/wheel) I’ll probably just end up getting a new bicycle. With that, we parted ways, myself stumbling home in increasing amounts of pain (and whining about it all the way on my keitai to the long-suffering tennis, who, for reasons not entirely clear to myself, never seems to grow tired of listening to me babble on aimlessly (or at least is too polite to show it)) and the girls, driving with perhaps a bit more caution and with a panda-shaped dent on the hood of their car.
And that, my friends, is how panda got run over by a car.
Just finished reading: “Margret Atwood – Oryx and Crake”
(a great book – thanks Tennis…!)
now listening to: “1tym – Hot”
(thanks Midori lotus…! Make sure to check her out DJ’ing over at!!)
10:23 am

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