September 27, 2004

Hi-dilly Ho

Recently, Karen and I discovered what happens when you ask your Japanese neighbor for a favor that they just can't help you with. The following is a true story.

About a week ago, we returned from work to find that bicyclees and rhoda had been towed away to the bike impound for a second time. The first circumstance proved to be rather difficult; finding the bikes was easier than expected, but riding them home involved navigation through uncharted, narrow road ways, infested with aggravated and annoyed Japanese commuters. Furthermore, the cost of getting there, plus the fee for getting the bikes back (1500 yen, approx. 15 US dollars) was just an added frustration that, while not an enormous amount of money, was just enough to ruin your day. In other words, it was an experience neither of us wanted to go through a second time.

So, it can be assumed that I was not very happy when I stepped out of the subway station (Karen followed suit later that evening) and realized that once again, the bikes were missing.

Now, you may or may not remember that a few weeks ago, our extremely friendly neighbor introduced himself to us, invited us in for a traditional Japanese meal, and has been taking English lessons from Karen ever since. (Full story can be found here) He was very open and polite, and mentioned that if we ever needed help with anything to let him know.

Karen let him know.

He told us he would be glad to help get our bikes back, but he was really busy at work and wasn't sure when he could drive us there to pick them up. We should have realized this was a sign that asking him was perhaps not the best idea. However, we waited patiently, and walked the long walk to the subway every morning, cursing the system for not catering to our specific needs. A week passed, and we started to get annoyed.

We decided that we would just suck it up, pay the money, and endure the ride to the bike impound lot to retrieve our poor, lonely bicycles. It was that afternoon that Karen recieved a phone call.

It turns out that our neighbor just didn't have time to drive us the 15 minutes to the impound lot, and he felt really bad. So what did he do? The answer is simple..

He bought us brand new bikes.

That's right, brand new. Not second or third run used no, these were the kind of bikes we looked at in the stores which had a price tag of $200-$300, and only wished we could buy. These were not bikes purchased at a side store like where we adopted bicyclees and rhoda. These bikes even smelled new.

Apparently he had a friend who he just happened to meet, and he sold our neighbor the bikes for... you guessed it... 1500 yen, the exact amount of money it would have cost us to buy our old bikes back. He had them waiting for us in his shop which is right next door to our apartment building. It was tremendously mindblowing in a holy-crap-that's-so-cool-I-can't-believe-it kind of way.

We were told that so many bikes are towed and never retrieved that the fate of bicyclees and rhoda was somewhat uncertain. It is likely that after 30 days, orphaned bikes are sold to China and other surrounding countries. Upon hearing this, I decided that it is my solemn duty to continue my effort and rescue bicyclees regardless of the inconvenience, as he sits lonely and scared in a field of unwanted bikes, waiting and wondering if their owners will ever come to pick them up.

And once I do, I will sell him.

Posted by jed at September 27, 2004 01:25 AM

Wow, that's a great story. But I do have to wonder how you guys manage to get your bikes towed away. Do the Japanese just regularly take bikes off bike racks and impound them? Do you lock your bikes up?

Posted by: lopolis at September 27, 2004 06:09 AM

yeah, we put locks on them. plus, all japanese bikes come equipped with tiny wheel locks that prevent the wheels from spinning.

however, bikes are so popular here that it is impossible to lock it to anything, so we leave them locked, but independent from anything grounded.

then, what seems like a regular basis, big trucks come around taking bikes that are parked in spots they shouldn't be. we usually park outside of a resturant right next to the subway enterance, along with at least 50 other people, and it was a safe place up until last week. now we have to pay money to keep our bikes in bike parking lots whenever we go to work to avoid having to go through this a third time. it was just very difficult to find out where we were supposed to park, and ir was one of the many things the language barier was preventing us from learning. luckily, thanks to karens ability to gesture and use her japanese phrase book, we finally discovered the proper place to park last night.

it's really crazy, in that bikes here are like cars in america; designated parking spots, pay per day/month parking, and they get towed if parked illegally.

Posted by: jed at September 27, 2004 01:00 PM

and also, thanks chase and alex for helping me with those spam comments, the security code thing is very helpful.

for those who don't know (ie: mom) if you want to leave a comment, fill out the info like normal, but make sure you type in the number just above this text box. it is there to prevent junk comments from getting through (just like junk email in hotmail, websites get junk comments)

thanks again guys

Posted by: jed at September 27, 2004 01:03 PM

No sweat, and let me know if there are any problems with it (or if the spam comments keep coming).

Keep writin'.

Posted by: alexs at September 27, 2004 04:44 PM

Why is it always to be assumed that I will be either the naive, stupid, ignorant or unhip one?

Posted by: Marseeya at September 28, 2004 10:12 AM

I think being patronized by your children is just one of the joys of parenthood...

Posted by: alexs at September 28, 2004 11:59 AM

he's got a point there, mom

Posted by: jed at September 28, 2004 11:42 PM
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