What triggered the “crime” in question was a very lightly scratched lamp post. My friend thought he should call the rental company about the scratch even though it was barely visible on the car but the problem was when he did it, the police came and in my city, we don’t really have any crimes here so the minute they discovered that my friend didn’t have a valid Japanese car drivers license, they told him he was going to be charged, not for driving into the pole but for driving without the license. Of course he also had to pay a heavy fine regarding the pole.
We were all very concerned and tensed in the office in the next few weeks that came and went. I felt guilty all the time. I wasn’t even in the car when it happened because he had already to dropped me off but it all started because he wanted to help me and I needed help getting the stuff so naturally I felt very guilty. It got worse when I found out how much money he was having to pay for the lawyer as he was worried there might be some jail time involved! Jail time!!! No good deeds go unpunished. My first few weeks in Japan and I was already aiding and abetting in criminal acts – joy of joys.
So you can imagine my surprise, shock and internal turmoil when I got a call from the police station saying that they needed to speak to me to talk about what happened on that day. They said they wanted to retrace the steps and they needed to ask me what happened on that day before the accident occurred. So on one very crisp day, my Japanese colleague took me to the police station which was actually located opposite from the university. She said she would come pick me up after I’m done but that there was an interpreter in the interrogation room already. Before I went in, the pep talk given to me by D (another colleague of mine, not the guilty party) was this: don’t talk about any details regarding J. Just be cool and talk about yourself. Don’t lie because you suck at it. Be vague about stuff and most importantly just be pleasant. I got away with 5 DUIs (or maybe something else – not sure) in the States because I was charming. (He’s so full of himself but I guess I was taking notes because I was being prepped by a hardcore acquitted criminal.)
Okay – so it wasn’t a big pep talk but in my crazed mind, I was already running around like a headless chicken. As I got into the police station, I was ushered into a tiny interrogation room which was so cold my nipples cold cut glass. I thought about Joey from Friends – I should really stop re-watching that show a million times. Imagine the goals I could be achieving if I stopped wasting my time with Netflix. Thoughts were running wild in my mind – am I wearing a bra? What if my nipples showed because it’s cold? Don’t take off my coat. Or take off my coat. Maybe I will look guilty if I don’t take off my coat. Definitely should’ve have worn a bra. Why are bras so expensive? Okay so my thoughts mostly circled around my bosom-area and I had no idea why. There were two policemen and an interpreter lady sitting already, waiting for me. As I got settled, all I could think of was be vague. Be vague – be vague – be vague but don’t lie. There’s no need to lie. Nothing to lie. So here’s how the conversation went down.
Policeman 1 (P1 from this point forward): Please state your name and occupation.
Me: My name is ……xxxxx
P1: Is this your last name or first name?
Me: So I’m from Burma, Myanmar. Do you know where that is? It’s right next to Thailand and in my country, we don’t have surnames. So I have to break my full name down into one and two parts. It’s really convoluted I know – because women in my country have difficulty if they get pregnant out of wedlock. Because if you look here (me proceeding to take out my national identity card) the only way we identify our families is through our father and grandfathers names. So it’s really bad for women who get pregnant without men – it’s an unfair, sexist and archaic system really.
P1 and P 2: (Looking flabbergasted at each other and to the interpreter) Pregnant?
Me: Yeah – babies – (me standing up and gesturing a big pretend-belly) … [in my mind – I have to stop talking about this. Why am I talking about wedlock pregnancies? Someone help me.]
P1: So this part can be your surname?
P2: How long have you been in Japan?
Me: Two weeks – maybe three weeks? I was in Thailand before.
P2: Can you speak Japanese?
Me: Not a single word.
They asked me a few more questions here to establish the relationship between my colleague and I.
P1: So we want to talk about the date…xxxxx and what happened on that day. Can you please describe the car you were in with your colleague first.
Me: [Thinking to myself – so I don’t even need to try being vague here – I really don’t know what car it is except that it’s white] It was white.
Me: It’s got four wheels and four doors and I know that the rear end of it was a bit round.
P1: What car was it?
Me: I don’t know. I didn’t look.
P1: Was it s Honda, Mazda ..?
Me: It was white.
P1 and P2: [Discussing furiously between themselves in Japanese – one of them grab hold of a plastic folder and approached me] Can you please look in this folder and identify the vehicle?
Me: [Flipping through the folder slowly and thinking- bloody hell – they’re all white – white cars.. they look the same..wait- are they the same? This one looks like the one we rode in – this one also – but was it round or square? Just pick on .. no yeah …pick one] I’m not sure…they look the same to me. I don’t know anything about cars. Once I tried to learn how to drive a car in Burma, and you know – it didn’t go very well. I haven’t tried since then. I’m really not observant with cars. In Burma, you can bribe people and get away with for driving without license. Maybe? Or maybe for something less? Not having a license on your body.
P1: [looking very very confused almost unbelievably shocked at my stupidity and pointed at a car] This was your vehicle. Do you remember now?
Me: I mean it could be. [while smiling like an idiot hoping he won’t section me off]
P1: Can you confirm into the tape recorder this is the car you were in please?
Me: No, I cannot. I mean I want to but if I’m not sure, wouldn’t that a lie? You want me to lie?
P1: [Looking shocked and almost jumping out of his skin] No ..no… this was the car you were in.
Me: Okay. If you knew it, why did you have to ask me?
P1: Please state into the tape recorder this was the vehicle you were in.
Me: This vehicle looks very similar to the vehicle I was in.
P1: [Looking a bit disgruntled yet unable to say anything] Please tell us what happened after you get into the car on that day.
Me: So I was at Lawson when he came to pick me up. I had like three packets of chocolate and a nice cup of coffee. [Eyeing how painful the policemen looked] I got in and I got my seatbelt on. Safety first you know. And then we left and then we went straight to somewhere – it was my first time going in that direction. I have never been there. I didn’t know where we were going or the name of the road.
P1: [scratching his head] What was the objective of that day?
Me: I wanted to get a washing machine. You know apartments in Thailand come fully furnished – the one I used to live in was cheaper than what I pay now but it has its own gym and a swimming pool.
P1: Please proceed.
Me: Well, we got there – and we looked around and I found a washing machine and a refrigerator I liked. But our car was too small so they couldn’t fit both of them and I had to pay extra for the delivery. So we didn’t need the car at all to be honest. We could’ve taken a taxi right? Oh wait – would you like to know the exact time stamp? [I fished out my receipts from that day – aha – I knew it would pay to never ever sort out one’s wallet one day and handed the receipts to the policeman] He asked me to place it on the table and the other guy took pictures with his giant camera.
P1: What happened next?
Me: I started eating in the car because I was hungry. I like eating – my colleagues are shocked at how much I can eat. [Both P1 and P2 looked like they wanted to bang their heads at this point.]And we drove back to my house with the delivery truck in tow. When we got there, we all carried the stuff into my house. But to my shock, they didn’t help me set anything up. I had no idea how to set up a washing machine. So my colleague helped me set it up – he was very kind. He’s a kind person. You know – the guy you’re asking me about.
P1: We understand. What happened next?
Me: We wanted to eat before he returned the car. We had rented the car for 24 hours so we wanted to make the most of it. He didn’t buy anything and I thought I will treat him for his dinner and I asked him to go around town but instead he said let’s go to the other side so I was like yeah let’s do it. So off we went. Again I had no idea where we were headed. All I remember was farms with little orange tress and lots of bamboo forests. And the beach – the beach all along the way.
P1: What time was it by that time?
Please read part 3 when I finish writing it. I have to go to bed now. I’m wiped!