$586.70...

Oct. 18th, 2005 06:10 pm
akujunkan: (tris!)
...and 30% of my yearly vacation down the drain later:

I NOW HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE.



I went in for the test last Friday morning after about three hours of sleep. The test was preempted right as we were set to begin for several hours by the farm equipment test; my period started early, necessitating frequent trips to the restroom for TP (sanitary supplies being unavailable in the DMV); and I made an ass of myself thinking the drink machine had shortchanged me when it hadn't. By the time I actually got into the car to drive, I couldn't have cared less about the test, which had a nice, Zen function. I went in and did it. And then it was over. )

It was like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one. I had not been that happy in months. I remember just walking around in a daze for minutes with a massive dopey grin on my face.

I passed the test in TWO GOES. NOBODY has ever passed the test in TWO GOES, but I did. I nearly had a heart attack every time they took my paperwork back into an office while making the actual license thinking that someone was going come back out: お客様、we have no excuse for this, but there's been a terrible mistake... But five hours later I had my license in my hands. What makes this all the more amazing is that I failed my first test because not enough of my back made contact with the seat while I drove. ("Don't feel too bad," my tester told me. "You're a foreigner taking the test for the first time, so it's a fact that you won't pass.") But let's ignore the casual racism for the moment, because in case you missed it,
I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE. I HAVE A JAPANESE DRIVER'S LICENSE.

Two times, motherfuckers! PWNED.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
So, driving lessons. Fifty minutes a go at the rate of 1 USD/minute.

Monday, my driver actually had me stop the car for about five minutes while he went to go chat with his friends who were fixing a traffic signal on the course. "Crows ate through the wires," he told me when he got back into the car. Needless to say, we stopped the lesson at exactly 50 minutes, which means I was out $5.00.I think he was also a little rattled by having Whitey in the vehicle with him. He never spoke except to give me a few directions, or once to joke about the fact that his behavior hadn't progressed to 'sexual harrassment' yet.

Today I went back for another two hours, which stretched into three by the time I was finished. This time, however, I lucked out. My driver was a darling grandfatherly Japanese dude who was really helpful; he was extremely tuned in to what I was doing for every minute of the three hours, gave constant advice and pointers, and more importantly explained the reasoning behind the ridiculously arbitrary testing procedures, which makes them worlds easier to remember.

He was also really relaxed around me - a foreigner - which is extraordinarily uncommon for guys his age out here in the boondocks. "Neesan, neesan, don't do that!" he kept laughing every time I reverted to my wicked foreign driving habits to do something silly like hit the wipers instead of the turn signal.

He was extremely patient throughout the three hours of my driving class. Basically, the Japanese driving test doesn't measure driving aptitude so much as measure one's ability to memorize rote sets of actions when driving a closed course. Which sucks precisely because it's no measure of of aptitude, but OTOH, I can see Japanese people thinking it's more fair than a test on the actual roads.

I feel much more confident on the whole about being able to pass this test. That was the first best thing about today's classes.

The second best thing was this )
On some days, I passionately love this country.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (kisama)
Yesterday I got my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn and headed down the licensing bureau.

Read more... )

I was finished with this by 8:40. Then I sat down. Japan is not big on air conditioning, but this place was cooled like a meat locker. I was wearing a suit and I had goose bumps. I actually put my raincoat on to keep warm.

The other foreigners I'd queued up with were finished by 10:00 at the latest. I wasn't called again until 11:30. What exactly had taken so long?  )

And then came the whopper. )

The woman sent me back to the waiting area. I gunned down two PET bottles out of sheer nervousness and frustration. Meanwhile, over fifty Japanese test takers got their results back; most of them seemed to have passed.

Finally, I was called back to the front. They'd taken pity on me and decided to let me take the paper test. Eureka!

I went upstairs for the test, which took all of three minutes and seemed to test more for basic brain function than knowledge of road rules. (Sample question out of ten: Is it okay to take sleeping pills before driving if they won't affect my performance?)

I passed, then it was on to the eye test and then to sign up for driving school.

So, the damage please:

Transport to and from the DMV: $4.80(2) = $9.60
Paper test fee: $24.00
ID photo fee: $1.50 x two pictures = $3.00
Driving school registration fee: $30.00
Cost of four hours of driving school: $235.00
Incidental beverages: $3.80
subtotal: $305.40

+ previous expenses ($43.50)


= $348.90

Driving school is an entry all of its own; more on that later.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (kisama)
I was informed by my employers that I must, under no uncertain circumstances, obtain a driver's licence and buy a car in order to do my job. Of course, I was not made aware of this before making the transition, and of course, I'm to do it on my own time and out of my own pocket, and of course it seems a little unfair to make me jump through these hoops in order to driver around the prefecture and teach English. But let's leave that aside and focus on the actual process myself. We're going to keep a running tally here. Just for my own edification, of course.

First, some background. )

Today, I began the application process to obtain an official Japanese translation of my American driver's licence. I could have gone to the office to do this in person; unfortunately, my supervisor discovered that it can be done (at greater cost to yours truly) through the mail.

So mail we did. The damage, please:

Translation fee and return postage: $32.90
Special envelope: $2.00
Postage: $1.40
Handling fee: $4.20
Certificate of Residence: $3.00

Currently identified problems:

1) In order to obtain permission to take driving classes and eventually, the driving test, I must present a Certificate of Residence from city hall stating that I live in the prefecture and that I have resided here for over sixth months. Unfortunately, while I've lived in the prefecture for over two years, I can only obtain a CoR for my current address, where I've lived for three weeks.

2) I must present my American driver's licence which states when I obtained my learner's permit, official licence, and every renewal since. This information is of course not on my American driver's licence.

3) I must present every passport, current and expired I have ever owned since obtaining my first driver's licence. This is, of course, also not within the realm of possibility.

All this before I even sign up for driving classes.

Stay tuned for the next edition.

That will be all.

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