When I learned I was moving to Kyuushuu, the southernmost island of Japan, I laughed about the placement with my family. Due to being only about 56 miles from Nagasaki and 210 miles from Hiroshima, I was certain I was doomed to grow additional appendages. Well, last week, my fears, once proclaimed in jest, came to fruition-I am now the proud recipient of two crutches, or, as I prefer to say, I'm walking around on four legs, as I've suggested in today's title, "The Legend of the Four-legged Sensei."
Last week, I slipped on a huge bump in the pavement while walking to the grocery store. It was quite dark out and a car's hood had been covering said bump. I didn't see it at all. My ankle turned completely and I fell slightly under the hood. I flipped out thinking the driver didn't see me. I raised my arm and tried to stand, but couldn't. I repeated the attempt, but it was an exercise in futility. So it goes. But, fortune was on my side in the most unlikely of times and places! The driver got out of the car to check on me and helped me over to a railing next to the driveway I had fallen in. I realized I couldn't walk more than the few steps I had and seriously wondered how I would get home. I live here by myself. I know few people and do not have a car.
I looked up and realized, however, that the driveway I had fallen in was that of the local hospital! Well, holy mackerel... As far as inconveniences, you do not get more convenient than that. The driver happened to work there. He called and asked if someone could see me, then drove me to the front door. It was so kind of him. After my appointment, I emerged on my shiny, new (okay, well, moldy, old) pair of crutches, then caught a ride home with one of the few people I know here; another kindness I was so lucky to receive.
Working on the crutches has been interesting. Of all the things I would miss from home, I never thought that ADA regulations would be one of them. All of my schools are two or three floors and there is no elevator. In one of my schools, the bathroom is in the other building. Alright, well, there is a teacher's bathroom right by the office, but that is an eastern-style one. So as not to take up more of your time, I'll let the great and powerful Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squat_toilet) tell you about those. While I can, have and will use those if there is no other choice afforded to me, with other options available, I opt for the western-style, which is unfortunately across a long, outdoor walkway, another stretch of a hallway, down the stairs and then about 500 feet. -_- It's a quick, little jaunt walking, but hopping on crutches, not as such.
Of course, those of you kind enough to read my adventures know how I got my extra legs, but the kinder at my schools do not. They understand that I was attacked by a zebra. The students have adjusted to my wacky madcappery and broke out with laughter. I then pointed out the pinstripes on their uniforms and pretended to be frightened at the reminder of my attacker. They lapped it up. It was fantastic. Throughout the day, one of the kinder would occasionally ask me "It was a zebra?" if they saw me in the hall. I would reply affirmatively and remind them that they should always be careful of zebras, since Kyuushuu is rife with them and is a very dangerous place. Of course, as Kyuushuu may not even have a zebra in a zoo, this was an excellent, yet surprising way the students and I could have fun together.
Some of the kinder were unbelievably sweet. If they saw me going up or down the stairs and trying to hold the crutches in one hand, while grabbing the railing with the other, they would instantly take and carry them for me. A few were kind enough to hold doors as well. I did have a couple of little jokesters who gave me my very own onomatopoeia, though! Apparently, walking with crutches sounds like "K'chonk, k'chonk, k'chonk." It's quite nice to know that.
I have not been able to go anywhere farther than work or the nearest convenience store since my accident. For work, I've had to spend an obscene amount on cabs (I fear for my budget!) and for the latter, I've resorted to hobbling there on my crutches. Despite growing up watching The Simpsons quite faithfully, I had no desire to do all my grocery shopping at the local Kwik-E-Mart as they do. It's rather expensive and they have a lack of foods with a cromulent nutritional value. (Fortunately, due to my obsession with broccoli, I was more than well-stocked previously). I was at least lucky to have that as an option, though. Having tired of (read: gone mad from) the Kwik-E-Mart food, I took a cab to the grocery store a few nights ago.
Even by cab, going to the grocery store has not been particularly easy. Sure, the cab drops me at the door, but then what? The carts here are about 1/4 of the size of shopping carts in the States. They are sized to hold the hand baskets. Hence, when I went to put one of my crutches in the cart, I had to put it on it instead–diagonally across. Now, what to do about walking without using my foot? I had the other crutch still under my left side, held the shopping cart with my right hand and stood only on my right foot. Then I slid the cart slightly with my right hand while hopping on my right foot. Then, I propelled myself with my left crutch. I slide-hopped around the whole store. It was hilarious, but a bit less fun than you might think.
To my surprise, while slide-hopping about, a person I'd never met before stopped me and asked if he could help me. When I hesitated, he insisted. He took me around the entire store, then bagged my items for me (in Japan, you bag your own groceries). He took my bags out and asked me where my car was. When I told him I came by taxi, he offered to drive me home. He also stopped at the drug store because there was an item I couldn't get at the supermarket. He did this without my asking him to do so. Then he walked everything up to my door for me. I was overwhelmed by his kindness. I never imagined a complete stranger would have gone so far out of his way for me.
I look forward to being rid of these cumbersome things and should be soon.