[The American Years]

Saturday, April 08, 2006

View of the Higashiama Zoo from the Sky tower. The whitish blurs are the cherry trees in bloom. There is an elephant in the photo some where. _________________________________________________

This is a local Nagoya artist's impression after he saw me walking through the train station.

You might say that the figure portrayed looks a bit like a feminine form rather than masculine.

Hey whatever. The artist's impression is the artist't impression. I'm comfortable with my feminine side.

I got my Japanese test results back. You may recall that it was multiple choice, and completely unintelligible to me. So the law of averages says I should get about a 25%. Guess what: 33%! I think I must be nearly fluent! Or at least a pretty good guesser. Bring on the Japanese SAT’s

The timeclock system at work has me wondering. If you ring your badge in at 7:35 in the morning, it credits you with 8am. Similarly, if you badge out at 6:20pm, it gives you 6pm. It only works in half-hour increments, and always defaults to not give you the time. The first level of thinking is that they’re trying to jip their workers out of pay. But I think it goes deeper than that. They have strict overtime limits here. So if a worker is up against the limit for the month, he can get nearly an hour of work done each day without having it count towards their monthly OT. Most workers are up to their max OT each month, so I don’t think it’s as simple as the company not paying them for hours worked. I might be wrong, but that’s the deeper meaning I’m choosing to withdraw.
Let’s talk about driving in Japan. I got my car, but it sat in my parking space for 2 days while my neighbor drove me to work on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday he and I had to keep separate schedules, so I had to drive myself. I decided to train a little on Tuesday night. A little bit of liquid courage to steel my nerves, and I was rolling.

It was a brilliant move on my part, because it was lightly raining. You might think: danger. But it was perfect. You see, the levers for wipers and blinkers are opposite to what you’re used to. A common goof by every expat novice driver is to wipe when they mean to blink. But with the light rain, when I’d approach an intersection, it was perfectly OK for me to change the wipers speed. Nobody was the wiser.

Driving on the left is not that hard, if there are other cars to give you hints. Hints like: “Follow that car that is going your way,” and “Don’t drive toward the oncoming truck.” Fairly easy. It only gets difficult when turning on to an empty road.

And the sensation is strange. Everything is there, and it all fits together, but it all feels goofy. It’s similar to trying to write with your off hand. You know how it all works and what the execution should look like, but the getting there just feels strange. I reached to my left shoulder for my seatbelt. It’s on the right side, you know, by my door. I can’t get into the habit of looking in the rear view mirror. I completely forget it’s there because it’s not where it should be. And I’m hoping to correct that blinker / wiper problem before it stops raining.

If you have any friends in the greater Japan area, please advise them to stay off the road.

Japanese proverb of the day:
"A good husband is healthy and absent."

(I'm guessing he's at work.)


Phil M. said...

That's great stuff!!! From my experience, the only driving tip I have is to always keep the center line of the road next to you (the driver). Have you had to fill up at a gas station yet? Ahh . . . the joys of full service! "Mantan onegaishimasu!"

blogon said...

I'm thinking, Halloween, white lycra bodysuit for you, pose next to the statue...you might make the evening news.