Bento-box Highway Trauma
１．We went camping during the 4-day weekend. It was great but also had some strange moments. On our way there, I had a funny experience. I was filling my car with gas at a rest-station on the Shin-Tomei Highway. While I was at the pump, an employee approached me. He was an older man, probably in his late 60s or early 70s. He asked if I had any children and then handed me an empty bento-box.
２．At first, I was surprised. Why is he handing me garbage? Is this some form of discrimination? Is it a joke? Then he asked if I had kids, and said that they would definitely like what’s inside. I looked inside his used bento-box to discover not only the remains of his food but a big beetle! It had giant pincers on its head in the shape of a ‘U’. Later I found out that these are called Kuwagata or hoe-shaped helmet crest stag beetles. (I prefer the Japanese name.)
３．I showed my wife, and she jumped in her seat. Neither of us likes bugs. The kids were asleep, so we kept the beetle on the floor of the car. I asked her if it’s normal for Japanese employees to give customers beetles wrapped in garbage. She didn’t appreciate my sarcasm but insisted that countryside people are often very generous and think a little differently than city folk. Anyway, I was impressed by this old man’s kindness, despite it being a little strange.
４．We continued on our drive towards Yamanashi. About 20 minutes later, my wife screamed. The beetle had escaped and was clinging to the ceiling of the car. It was right between our heads. I was driving at highway speeds and could not help her. (Although I was able to snap a photo!) She found a paper cup and held it under the beetle for about 20 minutes until we could safely pull the car over. We were both quite nervous.
５．Surprisingly, when we pulled over, we found another beetle. This one was even bigger and had a fork-like prong on top of its head. (A rhinoceros beetle, in English). We both do not like bugs, and we are admittedly cruel people, so we put the beetles next to each other to see what would happen.
６．The smaller beetle touched the bigger one and startled it. It then flew up towards my wife and me—just like a cicada that you thought was dead but wasn’t. My wife nearly had a heart attack. I would have been nervous as well if I wasn’t so brave. I didn’t know these things could fly! I guess this is what we deserved for trying to make the bugs fight. Carma got us!
７．Anyways, it was a strange thing for the gas-station attendant to do, but he gave us a very memorable experience. Thank you, random Shell-station employee!