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Japan Diary

Asleep at the Wheel

By January 18, 2020May 9th, 2020No Comments
Asleep at the Wheel

I have written about this in a previous writing, but this is a less than genteel approach to this topic. Maybe more like a complaint really.

There is an inoridant amount of people who are what I call “Asleep at the wheel.” Not literally, although I am sure there are some of those too. Rather they go about their day in a habitual manner not paying attention to anything except whatever it is that is propelling them forward in their mind. I know, I was once guilty of this. I am less guilty and with that comes a cost. I now notice people who are not paying attention and it irks me. I have reached a point where rather than let it boil over I now have a running joke with myself in my head.

The diversion (the joke) from boiling over manifests on my bike. Why? I am at risk of falling off and injury due to someone being asleep at the wheel be it a car, bike or pedestrian.

The diversion goes like this, once hitting the road to ride, how long will it take for me to reach my quota of 3 f$%k yous? The other day I surpassed it with 5. Often it is within the first thirty minutes of a three hour bike ride that I hit the quota. That’s right, there are that many people asleep at the wheel.

Now there is a chorus of words, which I will not say and reserved for that special someone. It’s a quota of 1 for somebody who is both asleep at the wheel while riding a bike, looking at their smartphone and listening to music with earphones. This does not happen very often, but when it does it’s a symphony of foul language never before experienced in Japan.

The reaction is usually deadpan, mostly due to the fact that they are unable to hear me because of the earphones. It’s alright, I feel better afterward for just having expressed myself.

While Japan is an aging society resulting in many asleep are the elderly. They kind of get a pass as I mutter under my breath to them. The elderly are revered in Japan, and they take advantage of it in many cases including while riding their bikes. I call it a passive Japanese form of entitlement. I am old, I am revered hear me roar. No wait, I am old, I am revered, make way!

This is where things get problematic for me. To assume that given one’s age there is supposed to be some special treatment has been something I have learned to accept over the years. Like a well worn stone lying in the river for years, it has smoothed me out and I do now accept this reality. Well that and the fact that I too will be old, hell I am already old(er).

So when an old(er) person makes a mistake or is asleep at the bicycle and not following the rules I am learning to let it go. If I were to express myself every time, at some point I would more than surpass my quota and end up alienating myself in the community.

After all I am a foreigner in Japan and already stick out. I would then be known as the angry bike riding foreigner.

We don’t want that now do we?

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