car trouble

10 03 2008

My birthday is Wednesday, so I went to Sapporo to celebrate my (and three other JETs’) birthdays the only way we know how. Drinking a lot. Whoop. (I read somewhere that awhile ago someone invented a punctuation mark to denote sarcasm, but it never caught on—maybe it was the unfortunate title of “interrobang.”) Come midnight, I got a call from my supervisor saying the Sapporo police were about to tow my car for parking illegally. Expecting to have to bribe the cops to get my car back, I saved money on a cab and sprinted out of this bar and ran (RAN!) through all of Susukino and its giant crowds of tourists, drunkos and hookers, over the river (through the woods?) to my friend’s house where I dug out a roughly car-sized parking space from crusty ice-snow, breaking a shovel in the process, so I could relocate my car, which had no cops even nearby. I returned to the bar, had one more drink and called it quits for the night, saving energy so the next day I wouldn’t die on the slopes.

I didn’t die. But I kind of wish I had, given the massive piles of embarrassment I went through after I fumblingly gestured losing my car key to the ski staff. I’m pretty sure there’s a sign about every 10 meters saying to secure belongings and make sure your pockets are zipped. It goes on about how you don’t want to be that guy without his keys. You know, the one with his cell phone and wallet in his car. Who can’t speak our language. That idiot guy. Named Zach.

At least that’s what I thought the signs said. I can’t read most kanji.

Well, thanks to the customer-is-always-right super-niceness of the resort staff, one of the staff members went a hour and a half of negotiations with the Japanese version of AAA, my insurance company, a locksmith and eventually lined up to have a local-ish Toyota dealer come and make a new key on the spot for a low fee of $180. Music to my ears after the initial estimate from the insurance company saying it would cost $70 to open my car, then $150 per 5 kilometers to drive it to Sapporo, roughly totaling $2,100 where they would make me a new key (for some fee, I assumed). My car only cost $500. The irony (or unfortunate-ness—whatever) would have been unimaginable.

Thank the fates! Someone found it. While I was eating the last of my cash at the cafeteria, I heard this long winded announcement “blah blah blah onegaishimasu KAAN ZAKARII SAMA blah blah,” and I ran back to the front desk, despite knowing everyone knew I was that guy (there aren’t many Japanese Kaan Zakariis), to find not only the woman that was helping me, but also the rest of the staff congregated with giant smiles on their faces and my key in hand. It totally made my day. Happy birthday me!

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