Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trucks Suck

Yes, I'm in a bitter mood. At Ye Olde Academy it was announced that, thanks to a weird curriculum change, the course that has been the main focus of my work for the past sixteen years is now inconvenient and will therefore be scrapped. To make matters worse, at a recent department meeting in which we discussed what to do with my course, the two most motivated (read "vociferous") teachers basically said we should take this opportunity to do away with communicative English teaching, period. One said, "There's little practical merit in communicative English." The other, while quoting fancy words from some book, said, "Junior high students need to spend more time in passive learning first," followed by, "Communicative English is useless for entrance exams." (Holy shyte, what year is this? Did we go back to 1990?)

In other words, they want to drag English education back several decades in defiance of conventional wisdom, the rest of the planet, the Ministry of Education and Technology, any degree of rational thinking, and simple reality. And I'm told I'm just supposed to cooperate.

Anyway, I was talking about trucks. There was a time in my childhood, no doubt driven by the CB radio craze of the late '70s, when I was into trucks and dreamed of being a truck driver. Actually, I still have a certain level of respect for American truck drivers, since they seem to have certain standards they adhere to.


As for Japanese truck drivers, however...I'm now firmly convinced that they, as a general rule, just suck. My reasons include:
  1. Trucks here basically go, stop, or park whenever and wherever they want and dare anyone to do anything about it. That can include turning or whipping right out in front of moving cars, changing lanes without warning (or looking), stopping in the middle of busy intersections rather than behind the stop line, or parking in the middle of the lane of a parking lot, blocking several cars (including ones that are in the process of backing out when they arrive).
  2. Their tendency to park anywhere also means they tend to block traffic lanes in the vicinity of ramen shops at mealtimes. That can include parking right on corners, making them dangerously blind.
  3. Trucks, especially dump trucks, have a tendency to think they're clever by ignoring the designated truck routes and taking short cuts on narrow local roads which are already barely wide enough for two lanes of cars. I once watched as one dump truck sat and blocked a road until a whole line of cars got out of his way. Another dump truck sideswiped me into a guard rail as he passed me on a curve (but my side bumpers took it with only minor scratches, thank god).
  4. In order not to worry about taking up parking space at their companies or using tolled parking, truck drivers here often park their rigs in the middle of residential areas. They then start their engines in the wee small hours and idle them for long periods to warm them, waking everybody up.
  5. When the government instituted the policy of discount times at automated toll gates, trucks soon started the custom of camping out on the shoulders in front of them until a discount period arrived. Then they would converge on the gates, clogging up expressway traffic badly and worsening the traffic jam problem.
  6. When the government started the strange "grace gate" (my term) policy allowing trucks to waive highway tolls at entry gates to expressways leading to and from the worst earthquake-affected areas (to help facilitate quake relief, at least in theory), trucks soon learned that, by taking a detour on the expressway to one of the designated gates, exiting it, re-entering it, and then continuing on their way, they could use the expressways for free regardless of their destination. One such gate is located in Mito, our prefectural capital. Now not only the gate, but also the surrounding residential neighborhoods are clogged solid with a steady stream of trucks taking advantage of the glitch. And the trucks aren't too careful about where and how they turn around to re-enter the gate, either, and apparently some people's gardens, fences, and cars have paid the price for the oversight.
I still respect American trucks, but here in Japan...trucks suck.

Japanese dump truck
You SUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!! You suck so MUUUUUUUUCH!!!!!!


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