Nov 7, 2006

Ninety Pounds of Pure Terror

You know what are scary? Not zombies. Zombies are all lumbering and beheadable.
No, cops are scary.
That distinctive blue woven fabric is more a banner of terror than any pustulating flesh will ever be... even if the cop wearing it is a tiny woman about a foot shorter and seventy pounds lighter than you. Prior to my departure, one of the trainers went out of his way to warn us about the Japanese police. I remember him cocking his head in question and saying that "They," and here he paused. It was a pause long enough to let us know that he wanted to say something rude, but was searching for a diplomatic alternative, "enjoy what they do," he finished.
Later, another trainer was not so circuitous. "Japanese cops are assholes," he told me, "have your papers on you. They can hold you for up to sixteen days without charging you of anything, and even after that apply for an extension. And, because your foreign, they'll get it. I've heard stories."
So, a few days ago, I was to meet one of my managers outside of the school. I was a few minutes early, and standing there with my bike, and this tiny woman with a badge on her hat walked up to me.
"Konichiwa," she said.
Oh shit, I thought, don'tfreakoutdon'tfreakoutdon'tfreakout, I continued to think.
"(something in Japanese that I didn't understand)"
I gave her a blank look.
"Card please," she said en Anglais, now, the paperwork for my alien registration card had not all gone through yet, so I just handed her my passport.
"Your bike?" she said?
I realized suddenly what this was all about. Bikes in Japan have to be registered in the same fashion of cars. However, I acquired the bike in question simply by inhereting it from the teacher whose job I took over. (You remember this bike- the wimpy bike I took to the Inland Sea.)
The bike wasn't registered in my name. My passport (which she had taken hostage) was demonstrably different from the regsistry that she was presently contacting on her little cop-radio. I suddenly had images of myself hauled off to some sterile metal cell, where I'd languish alone under pale, green flourescent lights shouting "I demand to see the American Consul!" at the top of my lungs, only to be ignored and forgotten by a heartless Kafka-esque beauracracy.
"Choto matte kudasai," (one moment) I said and reached for a phrasebook that I hoped would have some magical ass-saving phrase buried within it's covers.
"So," she said, "you know Chris?"
"Huh?" I looked up. "Hai."
"This is Chris's bike."
"Hai. He gave it to me."
Then she just laughed at me. I was, after all, a six foot tall guy, fumbling with a phrasebook, visibly frightened of a tiny woman in a hat. "Ok, ok," she said.
"Ok, ok." She was smiling, and laughing her ass off. Like, loudly. I'd heard all this stuff about the Japanese being all reserved and introverted, and here was a case-in-not-point. A few people were also looking at us, and seemed amused.
"Ok," she said again, and walked away.
I met up with my manager a few moments later and told him about. "Well," he said, "she was probably just bored, and thought you'd be fun to fuck with."


Joseph said...

There a week and you're already getting pushed around by the fuzz! Don't let the man get you down!

Kristin said...

That's hilarious! I'm sure she did it probably just to make you really nervous and yank your chain a bit. That's really weird that you have to register bikes there the same way you do cars...maybe it prevents theft though or something. Sorry I haven't responded to your e-mail yet, I've been really really busy, but I will later today. Glad you're having so much fun!

Anonymous said...

well, the cops do get bored. and they often do harass whites just cuz. My friend, while trying to do his laundry in a laundrymat 5 min from him apt got stopped and asked for him papers 4 times in 90 minutes... but it was a sketchy part of town. keep you gaijin card close to your heart when you get it.

that said, I had two students who were cops and they were both super cool and funny. they say that if someone calls 119 and complains that birds are in their garbage, the cops are so bored they'll go and deal with it.

kori--too lazy to log in