Saturday, August 8, 2009

Small adventures, 3

I'm currently reading some translated books by Haruki Murakami, and last night I got to the part in "Norwegian Wood" where one female character talked about losing the mobility of the little finger on one hand. She'd been a child prodigy at the piano, and performance stress had caused a psychological problem manifesting as a physical malfunction of her finger.

The next day, the little fingers on both my hands have gotten sore and lost their range of movement.

In my case, rather than performance stress, a car was involved.

I'd rode my bike out to Jindaiji shrine, about 25 minutes away from my apartment, for some sightseeing, photo taking and soba eating. On my way back home, I was thinking about the nature of coincidences and how two people in two different places couldn't know about each other, but someone in a helicopter could easily observe their intersecting paths. I got to Noborito and took a short detour to buy the English newspaper at the train station. Near the station, there's a T-intersection, with me approaching from the left part of the top of the T, and a driver sitting at the intersection waiting to turn to the right (I'm following some other cars and I have the right of way).

I get to the intersection and cross in front of the car, turning to the right (remember, in Japan, everyone travels on the opposite side of the street from in the U.S.) and the driver gets impatient, pulling out into the intersection before I can get past him. I have to take the turn wider than I'd expected to avoid him, and now I'm too fast for the turn. I hit a patch of loose gravel and dirt and I slam into the road going at least 15 miles an hour.

As I felt myself going down, I instinctively held on tighter to the handlebars and brought my right shoulder up. When my shoulder hit, I again instinctively curled my head down, putting more of the side of the helmet between my head and the road. I envisioned my glasses getting mangled and I thought I saw one lens pop out of the frame. Fortunately, I didn't slide much, but I could tell tell that I'd rubbed part of my right palm, the side of my right knee, my right shoulder blade and the helmet above my right temple against the gravel and tarmac.

Immediately, I picked myself up, checked my glasses (knocked off my face but otherwise undamaged), my knee (scraped but not chipped), my elbow (scraped and dirty but not chipped) and my right palm (protected by my cycling glove). The driver had immediately stopped and was looking back at me from his seat, afraid that he'd hit me. I waved to show I was fine and he waved back before driving off. The rest of the traffic flowed by, content in knowing that there was nothing interesting to stare at. Yelling and screaming at the driver would have made me look like the bad guy, so I just shrugged off the entire thing.

The pain subsided within a few minutes, but I decided to walk the bike through the next street light just to make sure there was no permanent damage. The chain had come off the gears, so I spent another couple minutes getting that unjammed and back working again. Then I started noticing that the outsides of both hands were hurting. Apparently, I'd held the handlebar grips so hard that the jolt against the road caused some serious bruising to the insides of both palms (the inside of the right palm started to discolor a couple of hours later).

One day after reading "Norwegian Wood", while thinking about coincidences, I encountered an impatient driver at the moment he decided to give in to his impatience. My "stress" was less psychological than physical, and while Murakami's character and I both lost the mobility of our left little fingers, I added to my list my left thumb and right little finger. Plus some road rash on my right knee and elbow, a major strawberry on my right shoulder blade, a bruised rib and a scrape above my right eye caused by rubbing from the helmet.

Just another day in paradise.

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