May 16, 2006

# 84

File under: Things About Japan You're Skipping Over One-toothed Beggars in Last Year's Gucci Line to Know About.

I went into the Driver's Licence Centre (a.k.a. DMV a.k.a. Big Building Full of Men With Tiny Penises Having Their Importance Elevated Unnecessarily) today following a perfectly executed evacuation from work at precisely the seventh stroke of twelve midday. Why would I be there at twelve midnight? Who's asking?

My licence had four legitimate days left prior to today. Now it has three years. So what if I'm only here for another 90 days? Story continues...


After I ducked out, I fired up the Daihatsu and popped my bloated head into the local 7-11 for some plastic food uber alles. It went down as expected.

With the taste of mayonnaise still bouncing from bicuspids to molars I arrived at the Driver's Licence Centre full of beans, if only figuratively speaking, having had my advances thwarted no less than Friday of the previous week by a lady bearing crossed arms (her own) in front of her chest. She may or may not have been shaking her head. At the time I wasn't privy to what she was hiding behind those arms, though my Japanese friend hinted at next to nothing, placing emphasis on the words "service" and "unavailable" following the significantly more enlightening titbit of info.

'What kind of Driver's Licence Centre doesn't provide a renewal of licence service every second of the day it's opened?' I asked myself.

Golden silence enveloped the powerful sky. I turned my head, I closed my eyes, I felt my size.

When I got there today, I was prepared: dosh, foreigner's I.D. card, my inkan ; a small, round bit of wood with a carved squiggle at the bottom to act as sole representative of my name, albeit the Japanesified version thereof, and a copy of Good As Gold by my favourite author of my present lifetime.

I sensed Area 1 was a great place to start. They suggested, by furious waving of appendages, that I pre-obtain a sheet from the Information Desk before I set foot in their hallowed region again. When we were reacquainted, Area 1's diligent workforce ticked a box I had left blank, knowing next to nothing apart from the word hentai in their endemic script.

Then the eye test got underway. Results proved that I had me a vision. There wasn't any television. From looking into the sun.

Area 2 beckoned. The form was passed from mine hands to hers; a faint smirk suggested she was well aware I had no clue which way led to the stairway to heaven and which way led to the cellar in which the good albums were being kept. I smiled glumly, hoping the shadow of doubt would cast a knowing facade over my unfamiliar face.

As I was gaining significant rhythm from my twiddling thumbs, she pointed to Area 3. I was dumbfounded: In no way would I have guessed Area 3 was to follow Areas 2 and 1 (not in that order, mind you).

Questions, questions and more questions arrived thicker than a bowl of VitaBrits lacking milk. As I had nothing to contribute, I produced my wallet. The lady gabbed some more before stripping it of 5,000 Yen (AU $55.00). She handed me a wad of pamphlets: to the opera; to the drag races; to the trots; I don't know, for everything was in Japanese and destined outdoors for the rubbish collection day when burnables feature heavily. The lady pointed upstairs, to the second floor of this mighty establishment. Instantly, I felt the golden glove pass over every centimetre of my humble flesh and bones. It was but only 1:30 in the afternoon. Huzzar!

Whilst upstairs in my fourth queue, a mugshot of an angelic face was handed to me; the heavenly expression translated like a living entity drained of all human emotions. My muse had been unearthed and I did the acting fraternity proud, paving the way for a visit to Room 204 and a two-and-a-half hour "briefing" on the dangers of licence renewal or some other trifle that went well above my head as some dickhead droned on and on about shit that had already been given to us in the endless paraphernalia at Areas 1, 2 and 3.

As your birth under a lucky star or sun or rock would have it, I have taken it upon myself to discontinue with the diet of text-based carbohydrates and instead posted a few snapshots as they appeared in my instructional booklets and whatnot.

As Black Francis repeatedly claimed: It's educational!

Let me know if you have any ideas about what it could mean as I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere in a field in Hampshire.


reverendtimothy said...

Oh, I'm fluent in bad image translation. :-) Allow me to help out!

A: When driving, make up your mind about which direction you're going, bitch.

B: During a snowstorm, do not disrupt the piles of crud that gather inbetween regular tyre tracks. In other words, if you drive a reliant robin, get the hell off our roads you English freak.

C: Even though you are a motorcyclist, please refrain from having an accident. The blood is a pain to scrape off the road.

D: Do not run out of Gas, or else a highly-convoluted death (involving an overladden truck) worthy of Final Destination will befoul you.

E: Judging by the rosy cheeks, and a lack of any "X" to mark bad behaviour, this suggests it is correct to operate a motor vehicle whilst drunk and smoking.

F: Do not follow the road signs as it will surely result in road-rage. To compensate, disregard road signs completely.

G: Haha, suck shit. An airbag can't save you now, fucker. Stupid gaijin.

I'd also like to point out how much I love the fact the letters look like they've been drawn in with MSPAINT.

Kaufman said...

You have my blessings, Reverend. Your effort in clarifying this is far more than your country asked of you.

The letters, hand-drawn by mouse in Photo Shop, were my way of showing how deeply I regarded the images and how I wished to maintain their integrity. I had to redo the "G" three times!

I'm still not completely happy with the "B" either.

Aminah said...

Is there any topic tedious enough that the Japanese CAN'T make it into a laughing stock?

Ok, so Andy helped it a bit...

Kaufman said...

Aminah: I don't think the local contingent, of which there were approximately 40, left with the same level of relief as me.

Over here, most people with an official's badge are treated with respect beyond the regular level, as though every word stated by them should be adhered to in the manner of a religious text.

I think the innate ability to discern a waste of precious time from a worthwhile cause overwhelmed me early on in the piece, where the room temperature from 41 human sized batteries in a confined space became of greater concern to me than the lecturer's intonation on the word 'ne.' There was no way of turning back from that.

I suppose I shouldn't whinge too much as I've got a brand new license in my wallet. I often wonder about the red tape, though; a paper pushing nation in the extreme form.

Under the Radar said...

It is actually worse if you speak the language. the guy picks you out and shouts "Can you understand japanese?!" halfway through a sentence. If you can then he makes the rest of the room hate you by holding up your home country as a shining example of what Japanese drivers don't do.

"Look! Britain has only half the accidents."

I didn't mention the roughly half sized population.

You blue too? Any tickets while you've been here?

Kaufman said...

I reckon he would've waltzed on over and asked quetions had I been seated closer to the front. I was practicing my stunned mullet 'Who, what, where, when?' look at the back of the room in case I was called upon and shamed in front of the others, not that I shame easily. You've been drunk with me often enough to know that.

Yeah, I'm a blue card carrier now, too. I'm miffed that I didn't get a photo of my old licence as it was the one with beard and suit.

I don't think I've ever stuck to the 40 km/h limit, even in the Daihatsu, but as yet no tickets.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

A: Beware! Junction may contain 'Lasers'

B: Beware! Offcuts from outdoor barbers reduce visibility!

C: Tattooed elephant leg indicates correct path through apex.

D: Airflow from flying cars can disrupt high loads.

E: Do not try to channel 'the force' through the soles of your feet.

F: Make sure all collages are firmly secured with seatbelts.

G: Wearing a crown in a crash could save your life.

Geoff said...

Great read to soothe my brain ache, which was your fault anyway COZ I STILL CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME. Whose name? The Andy Kaufmann's character who you have in your pic. Now I could ring my mates and they would after berating me on my stupidity and crap memory tell me the name.

I've always wanted to hold up a card with numbers in my Licence pic wearing handcuffs. But apparently a sense of humor is not part of the requirement to drive.