This is part 2 of my Becoming Superman story. If you haven’t read it yet, part 1 is here.
So I flew through the air briefly then hit the sidewalk and slid. A truck driver stopped to ask if I was OK, and the lady who was waiting to cross the road rushed over to ask the same question. I stood up, and while I was bruised, I decided that I was OK, after all, and so I picked up my scooter, realized the front tire had gone flat, and pushed it the rest of the way home and parked it in our storage room. I took the train to Nakano where my wife was working and she decided that I didn’t need to see a doctor, and so then I took the long train ride home.
At the time I wasn’t enrolled in Japan’s national health insurance, and so we were worried about the cost of seeing one, and since I could walk Yuki thought I should be fine. The memory of the uncertainty about whether we could afford the doctor’s fees is one reason why I’m reluctant to move to a country where there isn’t a national insurance system even today. That was also the first time in my life when my wife refused to give me a hug, as we met at the hospital, and I felt I really needed one after my crash, but that’s perhaps another story for another day.
I didn’t touch the scooter again for the rest of the winter.
Once spring came, I started to think about the scooter again, and to think that it was a waste to just leave it in the storage room, so once the weather warmed in April I took it out of storage to figure out what the problem was with it. I filled it with air and hear a gentle hissing sound, and so filled a bucket with water and rotated the tire around but didn’t find any leaks. Then I put some water over the tire valve and bubbles started leaking out at a really frantic pace. I inspected the valve and concluded that the core was loose, so I got out my tire core tool and tightened it, and the leak stopped.
My best guess as to what happened was that the motorcycle shop worker opened the valve core to change the tire, but after he put the new tire on, he didn’t tighten the core enough to close it, and so when I stopped to eat, all of the air left the tire while I was in the restaurant. When I came out of the restaurant, I thought the handling was funny because it was funny; the tire was flat, but I didn’t think that my new tires would go flat in the time it took for me to eat something, and so didn’t even think about that as a possibility.
Regarding my accident, I was really lucky for several reasons. One is that it was winter, and so I was wearing my Carhartt coveralls, which meant my skin was bruised and a bit scratched, but it wasn’t anything major.
The other is that I was wearing a helmet with a full face shield, and so when I hit the ground, the face shield dragged across the road instead of the skin of my face, saving me from having been hurt a lot worse.
My experience is something I remember every time I see a university student riding their motorcycle or scooter with a small bucket helmet with no face cover and too often the strap unbuckled. If I had been doing that when I crashed, I might not still be around today.