Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2 Drivers

The Signs
I knew he was doing it wrong when I turned into my neighborhood. He was backing up his car in an unusual place. He then turned in front of me and resumed driving. I inwardly groaned when he turned right where I needed to turn right. When he attempted a blind curve, an oncoming car approached. He was not past the yellow barrier so he needed to back up. He sat there, his car blocking the road. The other driver got out of his car and approached him. I knew he was telling him to back up. They squabbled back and forth. Cars began accumulating behind me.

The Wait
I sat patiently in my car, box of tissue at my side nursing my runny nose, jazz tunes on my iPod. I was heading home, but I could tolerate a few more minutes while this was sorted out.

The Conflict 
Then both drivers started walking toward me. The oncoming car driver looked as if he would skip me and defer to a Japanese driver, I was  clearly a gaijin. But the doing it wrong driver shuffled toward me anyway. I rolled the window down not sure what to expect.

They were two men, Japanese, both in their sixties maybe. The doing it wrong driver spoke English. He started first. I raised my hand to stop him. I said, "Back up, it's the way in this neighborhood." "I refuse. He's not nice," he said while pointing at the oncoming driver who was slightly exasperated. I glanced in my rear view mirror, five cars were awaiting this resolution.

This is where motherhood comes in handy, I said, "Doesn't matter if he's nice, it's not the point. You need to back up. It's the right thing to do." He couldn't argue with that. I think he thought as a gaijin I would side with him, but I know the rules on this one. Here in Japan the rules are king. He backed up. The cars began to move again.

The Arbiter
In five years that was the first time this has happened on our one lane goat paths going into Omachi. Kind of amazing it doesn't happen more often. I had to smile that I had been the arbiter of the dispute, you know me the gaijin. I am pretty good at recognizing when someone is doing it wrong because usually that someone is me. The smile was because for once, it wasn't me. I get some things right tokidoki.
The narrow streets of Omachi in Kamakura