January / February 2006 – Saved by Ringer Hut

Hello readers, this is a story which didn’t originally appear on my blog 10 years ago. I usually have no problem writing about my own misadventures, but I am often reluctant to write about somebody else’s. It’s a fun story, and since it’s been 10 years I have decided to write it up properly. I’m not sure the exact date that this happened, but it was likely in January or February 2006. Enjoy!

During the first few months of 2006, there were drinking related events happening even more often than usual. In order to spare my liver and my wallet, I decided to decline an invitation to a standard post work izakaya / karaoke / last train home event. Palmer stayed home too, while Azeroth was out with the other teachers. We were having a quiet night in, when just after midnight I received a phone call from Christopher Cross; he was trying get Azeroth home in a taxi, and had no idea where we lived.

Most of the NOVA teachers in the area lived in one apartment building just north of Numazu station. Azeroth, Palmer and I were the only ones in a company apartment in a different location. Our apartment was east of the station close to the Seiyu department store, and about a 15 minute walk from the other apartments.

I asked Christopher why they were in a taxi, and he told me that Azeroth was far too drunk to get to the train station. This was unusual, because Azeroth had an insanely high tolerance for alcohol, and could function under levels of intoxication that would have dropped the average person. For him to be in a taxi, he must have been REALLY drunk. We told Christopher to tell the driver that we lived near Kadoike Park, thinking this would solve the problem.

A few minutes later we got a new call from Christopher. Azeroth had barfed in the taxi, and had managed to catch most of it in a plastic bag. Apparently catching most of it wasn’t enough for the driver, who kicked them out on the side of the road. After debating with the driver briefly, Azeroth fell out of the taxi, hitting the ground pretty hard. The driver pulled away, leaving them in an unknown residential area somewhere in Numazu.

I’m writing this story in 2016, where this situation would be a minor problem. Chances are good that one or both of my friends would have a smart phone with GPS and map software. Christopher’s Japanese was not great, so he likely would have a translation app ready to assist. The problem is that this story took place in 2006, where their cell phones could only make phone calls, send text messages, and take really crappy pictures.

Although we found the situation funny (because we weren’t there), Palmer and I decided we would try to help as much as we could. The first order of business was to find out where Christopher and Azeroth were. There are virtually no street signs in Japan, and Christopher was unable to read any of the signs on utility poles that might give a hint of where they were. We got them to start walking towards the brightest light they could find, hoping it was a major street.

I pulled out my atlas of local street maps that I had purchased after getting a bicycle. When Christopher and Azeroth found a main street, I asked them to read any of the signs they could see. Azeroth could read Japanese, but he broke his glasses during his fall out of the taxi which didn’t help the situation. Christopher couldn’t read Japanese, but was able to read the one nearby sign that had English, the sign on fast food chain Ringer Hut.

Palmer’s computer was nearby. He pulled up the Ringer Hut website and found the Numazu locations. We guessed at a few likely places and looked them up in my street atlas, which also displayed major stores. Christopher noticed that there was a gas station near the Ringer Hut, which helped us identify their exact location in my atlas. They were in the north east corner of Numazu near a large park called “Kadoike”, which was not at all close to the small park called “Kadoike” across the street from our apartment. Dear Numazu – this is confusing!

Now that we knew were they were, the next step was getting home. Thanks to my atlas I found that they were only a few blocks away from a convenience store. It should have only taken a few minutes to walk, but Azeroth was in no condition to walk quickly (or in a straight line).

They called back when they arrived. Christopher wanted to get the staff to call for a taxi, but didn’t know how to say that in Japanese. While I was trying to come up with a good translation, Palmer suggested that he just go into the store, say “taxi” over and over, and point at his drunk friend. This was surprisingly effective, and is a good reminder that the best communication doesn’t always need a lot of words.

Christopher told the taxi driver to go to Seiyu, the giant Wal-mart owned department store at the end of our street. Palmer, who was in fantastic shape, jogged down the street to meet the taxi. I tried to keep up and ended up panting and cursing. We met the taxi in the parking lot, and got a chance to see the damage to Azeroth. He stumbled out of the cab, carrying a plastic bag containing some vomit and a badly bent pair of glasses. He was bleeding slightly from his head and forearm from when he fell out of the taxi. Despite all of this, he was smiling and seemed to be enjoying his evening.

We thanked Christopher and sent him on his way home for some much needed sleep. Palmer and I escorted Azeroth home, cleaned and bandaged his injuries, and gave him plenty of fluids before sending him to sleep. The next morning Azeroth was still slightly drunk. We told him the story and made sure he gave Christopher a call to express his gratitude for helping Azeroth get home.

I obviously missed out on a pretty good party the night before, but it was still fun to help my lost, drunk friends get home safely. Who says an evening in is always boring?

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