Action Movie Restaurant

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My husband was working yesterday, so we didn’t do much for Valentine’s Day. Today, we decided to go out for breakfast. But something really surprising and scary happened!

We went to a pancake restaurant near where we live. It’s my favorite breakfast restaurant. We got a table by the window and sat on the same side of the table. I sat closest to the windows. It’s a big old A-frame building. It has windows along the front and one entire side. To my right, there was a tall window. Outside the window was the sidewalk. Past the sidewalk was a handicapped parking space.

When we were almost done eating, we heard a loud noise. It sounded like tires screeching, when someone goes really fast around a corner or from a stop. How weird! I looked out the window. I didn’t see a sports car in the parking lot or anything like that.

But I did see a white minivan parking in the handicapped space. It was facing directly toward us. (An American-style minivan, so that means it’s a BIG van in most countries!)

And it wasn’t stopping. The minivan was driving right toward our table!

“Don’t be an idiot! Don’t just sit here and stare at it, like people do in TV shows,” I thought, “Get the heck out of the way!

At this point, I don’t really know what happened. I can’t remember the details clearly. I know I got up and moved as fast as I could. The next thing I remember is that I fell down while I was getting away from the window. I was surprised that I was on the floor, and I heard a loud bang. (That was the sound of the minivan hitting the building.) I looked up.

I saw that the big glass window hadn’t broken (and absolutely no one else had moved). The minivan had stopped. It hadn’t broken through the wall or glass. (Actually, it had hit the building really hard and bounced off, but I didn’t know that until later.)

I stood up and people started asking if I was okay. I said I thought so. Several people said “You guys moved fast!” I was a little embarrassed, so I said “I guess we overreacted.” (That is, I thought maybe we had done too much. Actually, I didn’t think so, but I felt self-conscious.)

“I don’t think you overreacted,” said a man from another table. He got up and went to the support beam that touched our table. Since it’s an A-frame building (shaped like an A, not a square), there was a big metal or wood beam that went from the floor to the ceiling, like a / . He said “Look at this.” The A-frame beam was broken at a joint where it connected to something. Wow, scary! One of the staff members quickly came over and moved our things to a table in another part of the restaurant.

My husband and our waiter ran outside to check on the driver and the passenger in the car. They were okay, just shaken up (scared). The driver had accidentally pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake

The owner was calling his insurance and the police and so on when we left. Anyway, I’m glad no one was really hurt, the glass wasn’t damaged, and so on. I hope the repairs aren’t too difficult for the owner (he’s a really nice guy).

My knee is a little bruised from where I hit the floor. I put some ice on it earlier, and I’ll put some more ice on it later.

That was definitely one of the most interesting ways I’ve ever started my day. It was kind of like being in a movie. Actually, it was too interesting. I don’t want to do that again. But we were lucky that it wasn’t worse…

I’m REALLY glad it wasn’t like THIS:

DEFENESTRATION THE MOVIE from Everything Is Terrible! on Vimeo.

Luckily, the restaurant was built much better than the ones in the movies and TV shows above!

(“Defenestration” is a rarely used English word that means “the act of throwing someone or something out of a window,” but this video has scenes of things going into and out of windows. I guess whether it’s “in” or “out” or “through” depends on where you are.)

Meet the World: Part 3

Meet the World is a set of three posts about sites where you can meet visitors to your area and speak English or another language with them. This is the third post.

Finally, you may have heard of Couchsurfing. Their main service is connecting travelers and people who have room in their home for sleeping. (That’s right: You let strangers stay in your home! However, like Hospitality Club, they have some safety features–you can only decide to accept people who have already stayed with other users, etc.)

But Couchsurfing also lets you just meet visitors for lunch, etc. When you register, there’s an option called “Couch Availability.” The question is “Are you able to host anyone now?” This is about whether people can stay overnight at your place. Your choices are “Yes,” “Definitely!” (meaning you really want to), “No,” “Maybe,” “Coffee or a drink,” and “Traveling at the moment.” If you’d just like to meet people, and maybe be their guide, choose “Coffee or a drink.” That’s fine!

When you confirm your account, you can choose to make a small donation to become “verified.” CouchSurfing uses that information to check your information and to send you a postcard. That proves to CouchSurfing and other users that your name and address are real. You don’t have to do this (I didn’t). Just choose “Continue to Edit Your Profile” if you don’t want to. You can also do it later, if you want to. When you use the site, you might feel more comfortable contacting other users who are verified.

If you don’t want your real name to be displayed to other users after you join, go to “privacy settings.” Change “Hide name” to “Yes.” It’s up to you. There are a lot of settings, so look at them all. is extremely popular, so if you really want to meet international travelers, you can try it without having people actually stay in your home. There’s lots of advice here. You can also change the language in the top right corner. (And here are messages from people who’ve tried it.)

To write this post, I registered for all three of these websites. So if you need help getting started, I can try to help you.

And remember, you don’t need to stress about your language level too much.

If you’ve already tried them, or if you know about a better site, please tell me!

Meet the World: Part 2

Meet the World is a set of three posts about sites where you can meet visitors to your area and speak English or another language with them.

The second site is Hospitality Club. It seems to be much bigger than Hi Everywhere!. People can use it to request guide services or or to ask to be able to stay at someone’s home. For that reason, they have more security features than Hi Everywhere! Here’s how to use it.

  1. You register. You give them information including your country, region (province, etc.), city, name, and address. You may not be comfortable with this, but they request this information so that members know that you are really the person they expected to meet. If they meet you, they are supposed to ask to see your passport to make sure it matches. You can choose to not show this information in your profile in general.
  2. In step 2 of registration, you fill out your profile. One part says “I can offer accommodation: yes, maybe, no” and “I can offer: show around town, have someone over for dinner.” If you’d like to be a guide only, then you choose “no” for accommodation. After that, choose “show around town”. You can also choose “dinner” if you’d like to invite someone to your house for dinner).

Meet the World: Part 1

I know that many English learners would like to meet other people to speak English with. It’s great to talk to other people from your country, Europe, and so on. Having someone to talk to is fun, can help you learn things, can make you want to learn more, and gives you a reason to really speak English. It can also be stressful and scary, but that’s part of learning!

Anyway, for a lot of people it’s hard to find someone to talk to. But there are ways…

shokunin_backpacker_on_a_phone from

As I said on the Improving Your English in Asia page, one way is to find out if your city or province (etc.) has a volunteer guide program, like Goodwill Guides. If you can’t do that, I recently found out about two other sites. (I already posted them to our Facebook page–remember to “like” it if you use Facebook!) I’ll introduce a third site, too, in three posts here. All of these sites are free to use.

The first site is Hi Everywhere! The site says “Hi Everywhere!” is a volunteer local tour guide exchange community.” Here’s how it works:

  1. You register. Your information includes a username (not your real name), your e-mail (not shown), the languages you speak, your city, and whatever you want to say about yourself.
  2. Travelers post information (requests) about where they are going and what they need. For example, a British woman is going to Japan for a month. While she’s there, she would like to go anywhere in the countryside. Even if she can meet someone for an hour, it’s okay.
  3. You look at the requests and decide whether you can help. If you want to be someone’s guide, you can click “Book it!” Or you can leave a comment to discuss it with the person.

After their trips, some users write journals about their good experiences. I don’t know how active the site is, but you can try it!

Don’t worry about your English level too much. If you’re not fluent in English yet, just tell them before you meet them. When international visitors come to your area, they will probably be happy to meet anyone who speaks ANY English. If you need help, you can find information about food, history, and so on in English in advance using Wikipedia, Wikitravel, and so on.

Here are the next two posts: