Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A tale of saikuringu and woe...

If I was better at kanji, I would know the kanji for "hardware store" and would have been able to find a hardware store close to my apartment where I could buy a lightbulb for my front hall light (which has been out-of-order for about a month now).

If I knew more Japanese, I could have asked someone at the grocery store or the local konbini (neither of which sold the right kind of bulb) where the closest hardware store was so that I could buy said lightbulb.

But I didn't. So this evening, after bicycling to get some groceries, I decided to continue bicycling further across north-end Gifu to a large Valor Home Center (kind of like Home Depot) in order to buy a lightbulb for a whopping 238 yen.

It was 6:15 when I left the Home Center to start the long cycle home (about 25 minutes). Randal was coming over at 7:00 or so, and we were going to go out for Indian food (and, conveniently, he was going to change the lightbulb - it's a tricky fixture up a bit too high for me to reach).

But when I got on my bike and started pedalling, I became aware of a strange dragging sound. I had heard it shortly before entering the Home Center parking lot, but attributed it to the strange pavement I was on at the time. Now, on smooth pavement, the noise was still following me.

I got off, and inspected. Not good: I had a flat tire.

Not only flat, but apparently (it was dark out) a tear in the tire down to the inner tube. And I was in the middle of nowhere. There were no busses in that area of town, and besides - I had my bike and a basket full of groceries.

So I called Randal, told him I would be late (he was running late, too, anyway), and started the long walk home with my poor bike's wheel completely flattened.

I was dressed warmly, with gloves and a scarf, but having gone out straight from work, was still in my dress shoes - not the best pair for long-distance walking.

So this was going to be a post about how it took me over two hours to walk home and how, by the end of it all, I had had to sling my bike over my shoulder, with the grocery bags and purse perched precariously atop my head, since the wheel was now wobbling back and forth, in four barely-attached pieces.

But. The bike made it home in one piece, other than the tire.

And. It took me barely 45 minutes to walk home. What a kick in the pants to what otherwise would have been an interesting blog entry. I apologize to all my loyal readers (all two of you - hi Mom! hi, uh, Mom again!) - you deserve better.


Mark Reynolds said...

Ha! I mock your bike-related tales of woe! Where, I ask, are homicide attempts by South American water rodents? You'll have to do better than that to impress me.

Waterlily said...

That's nice dear! (stantard motherly phrase). Actually I think that your blog entry is improved by the interesting flat tire episode. But were there no helpful strangers, such as are plaguing Elliott in Hokaido? We have snow here, and freezing cold, so you can smirk. No one's biking.

jerome said...

Yuck - I hate flat tires! For some reason, they always happen in the middle of nowhere. After several such long walks I eventually learned how to fix them (which isn't a whole lot of fun either).

The tear in your tire was probably from riding on it flat. Usually something small works its way through the tire and punctures the tube, creating a slow leak. Once enough air escapes, you're basically riding on the wheel's rim and that's what finishes off the tire .

julie said...

No, I live on the lean, mean streets of Gifu, and everyone just looks out for themselves (well, as much as a Japanese person ever could do, which isn't very much). But I'll take a look at the tire in the next day or two and see what can be done (if anything).

Mark, you reminded me: I forgot to mention the nasty run-in with a Japanese Water Dragon Beast whilst crossing, knee-deep, through a rice paddy! How foolish of me to forget.