Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Because he is Japanese?

As there are some much, much more important things going on in the world right now (which seems to have mostly escaped many people---both Japanese and not---whom I know) I haven't been focusing on the small little irritants recently.

However, my Japanese teacher who insists on spending the first hour of a two hour lesson on chatting* often gets me back to thinking of such things. A few weeks ago while wasting time BS-ing, she told me about a bicycle accident that she had recently been in. Seems it was raining and the normal, everyday mami-chari-riding head-up-the-keister salaryman came around a curve on the wrong side of the road with his umbrella in front of his face so that he could not see and ran into her injuring her wrist.

I didn't see anything unusual about this as it is the common, everyday way of riding. In fact, had he not come around the curve on the wrong side of the road with an umbrella blocking his forward vision, then I would have been shocked. Her story was only surprising because a just few weeks earlier I had mentioned how dangerous it was to ride a bicycle with people not paying any attention to where they were going, wobbling from side-to-side, and basically riding brain dead. She acknowledged this and said she was guilty of it herself, but seemed to see nothing especially wrong with it.

Except for her injury, I viewed this as a non-event, just an average day around mama-chari riders. I ask her one question, and that was "What did he say?" She replied "I'm sorry." THAT WAS A SHOCK!!!! I ride thousands of miles per year and have been in several accidents. I have found that it is EXTREMELY rare that any mama-chari rider will apologize for causing an accident.

I then told her about one of the accidents that I had where a guy jumped into his van, and without pausing to look, backed out directly in front of me. Fortunately I had seen him and identified him as a likely idiot and had hit the brakes and was able to slow quickly, but still had to swerve and hit gravel and crashed. As I was picking my bloody, road-rashed self up off the pavement, he rolled his window down about an inch and looked at me. Then he backed the rest of the way out and took off down the road. (Of the dozens who had seen the accident, nobody offered any assistance.)

She giggled when I told her about him taking off with no apology , no offer to help, and no show of concern. and said "Because he is Japanese!" I left it there as I knew what she meant and I have heard many Japanese say similar things. She didn't mean it is something genetic, or something that everyone does. But some people seem to find that sort of thing as pretty unsurprising.

Gee, wonder why that would be in the land of perfect politeness and where everyone obeys the rules?

I actually want to focus on improving reading skills/comprehension not on shooting the shit which I can already do. I can't complain much as I got her off the JPLT 1 test material for reading and into some actual materials that one could find some reason to read. Hell will be mighty frigid before I take another JPLT test anyway.

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