Thursday, October 09, 2008

Licence Done...

...for another three years. Erica is behind me, playing the piano. She's not particularly skillful, but she knows where the volume dial is.

You have to sit through a two-hour lecture to get your licence renewed in Japan, and as K was working, I had to take Erica with me. No worries, I like bringing my own toy/excuse/get-out-of-jail-free card. She was an angel though. Sat on my knee for the first 15 minutes, then I gave her cookies when she started getting distracted. It was her nap time though, so eventually I had to feed her. I thought I was wearing fairly breastfeeding-friendly clothes - a shirt, singlet top and nursing bra, but the bra kept pinging back up, the singlet is stretch and kept squashing my boob and the shirt kept closing again, so I had the devil of a time getting bubs on without baring the whole damn boob. But she finally got it, went to sleep, and stayed that way for nearly an hour.

They talk mostly about accidents. Rules, manners, cautions, the 59 people who died last year in Oita prefecture. The penalties and consequences. A video showing Japanese prison, testaments from speeding and drunk drivers who killed someone, and a heart-rending letter from a bereaved mother. All very sober stuff. Look ahead, don't talk on the phone, nothing wrong with drinking but don't drink and drive. A video showing how even a stunt-car driver can't handle a car as well at 60 as at 40kmph, and can't avoid hitting the pedestrian at 70.

Erica woke up, and refused all water, cookies, and toys. I walked around with her, including over to a rude young man who was blatantly asleep with his head on the desk. I knew if I stood there long enough, she'd yell in her super-loud voice, and she did. He nearly jumped out of his seat, drool dripping down his chin. Idiot. Consider it my revenge for years of enduring sleeping students in my own classses.

I even stayed back at the end to ask a few questions! I've been driving in Japan longer than in any other country, but I still wonder about a few things. I found out that:

- if you're driving along minding your own business and some idiot in front of you decides to reverse into a parking place and crashes into you patiently waiting behind, it is indeed his fault, even though you are technically the one in the rear. That he indeed should pull over to let you pass first, instead of just expecting you to back up and get out of his way. This has happened to me twice! Nice to know.

- there's no right-hand rule in Japan - it's the left-hand rule. Right. Well, that explains a lot! Like why Japanese people can't use round-abouts, which depend on the right-hand rule. They also explained that it's very rare to have a completely indication-free intersection anyway, and the usual big-road first, straight-ahead-moving person first rules apply.

- re the above-mentioned big-road-first rule - it's often the other way round in Japan when the car on the big road is turning into the small road, on account of the fact that the small road is just too narrow, so they just have to wait for the car to move out of there. Sometimes there's a little bit of a stand-off if you're the one on the narrow road, when you think there's enough space for them to get in, but they don't, and you inch forward and brake until you figure yourselves out! So, who is at fault if you crash, given that the person on the small road is supposed to be giving way? Well, both. Maybe. It's a gray area. Nice to know.

(Actually this gray area, or double-fault is not uncommon in Japan. Instead of pinning all the blame on one person, Japanese police like to dole it out to both parties, balanced according to how they judge the level of responsibility of each. So while a rear-ender might be mostly the fault of the person behing who was following too close and not paying attention, the person if front might also have to take some of the responsibility for braking too suddenly.)

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