Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The trials of ageing

Well, not a whole lot of quilting to report, If I posted a picture of progress on my mola, you would have to look hard to find what I have added since a former picture.

The big focus for this month is getting my driver's license renewed. It expires one month after my birthday which means the end of November.

In Japan, when you reach 70, you have to begin a series of driving tests every three years. One has to book an appointment at a driving school for the lecture and assorted tests. The first one I took at a driving school in Suginami where we were living at the time. It had the usual eye tests and reaction time tests and a "road" test on what I call a Micky Mouse course, plus several hours of lecture pointing out how dangerous old people are when they get behind the wheel. Rather a depressing way to spend half a day.

The last two tests I took at a driving school near my home in Nerima. My husband booked the test day and I just drove over there and took all the assorted tests in one half day. Now it is my fourth time to go through the process and the local school could not be booked.

Actually, I was not able to do any booking. My daughter, Norie offered to make the calls for me but with much trying, was told it wasn't possible to fit me in until after the new year as they were all booked up. It took her husband, Hiro, an hour to finally get the driving school to schedule me. At that, it was not a great deal. There was something about a postcard from the local police (something I never got and there was no information on what it was or how to get it) The location they chose was not the one in my neighborhood, but one farthest from where I live in a strange area that has changed so much over the years, one would never find your way even if you had lived there formerly.

Today Norie helped me figure out the route and met me at the station. It was a good thing too because there was no information where the bus was to meet people. By the time we figured out that white bus was the "Green" one, and waited for the crossing light to change, the bus took off without us. So ... we waited and waited for the next one. At last that one was green. Well, finally we got to the school. I probably could have walked it in the time it took to wait ... had I known which way to walk.
Of course there were more papers to fill out but this time I had Norie's help. Then wait some more ... pay the fee ... then wait again.

Finally, I was ushered up to the 4th floor and Norie had to leave as the projected time did not fit her schedule. I got separated from the rest ... all men ... and sent off to another room. There it was explained to me that if I passed the test with a score above 75, I could come back for a two-hour lecture and the Micky mouse course. If my grade was below 75, I would have to take the three-hour lecture instead. Then came the test. First question ... what time is it now? Yes, on previous tests they did that ... make you put away your watch and then ask you to record the time. No problem there.
Then came the questions about what day is it month. year, etc etc. OK, then four sets of four pictures.

Look at one card, listen to the guy say what it was ... tank, drum, eye, stereo set, OK, the tank was referred to as a weapon, so the tank shoots, it sounds like a drum beat, I open my eye to see where it is and find a stereo set. Good. give me the next  set. Three more sets making 16 pictures, then I was asked to write down what I saw. No problem. Then I was given a sheet if clues as to the pictures and wrote down the 16 words again in that order. Then there was a puzzle with numbers where I had to go down a page filled with numbers and cross off all the 2s and 4s. OK, I can do that. Then I was given three more numbers to cross out. I am wondering what this is testing me for. Then I had to draw the face of a clock and put the hands at a certain time. Well, I guess it was a good thing I didn't have to convert it to am and pm with bigger numbers. In all, I finished the test and they took it off to go over my answers.

The guy brought me a cup of Japanese tea and told me I had aced the test at 100%. Well, do I go out and say I got 100% on a senility test? Am I 100% senile? anyway, I was not allowed to book my actual driving test and the two hour lecture while I was there at the school but must do it sometime after getting home. The paper they handed me was all in Japanese except for my name and the 100% at the top. Hopefully Hiro can wangle me the next session before my current license runs out.

My take on this whole thing is that they are trying to make taking the test so difficult that senior citizens will just give up. A schedule that takes you on numerous trains you are not familiar with to a strange station ... requiring you to ride during rush hour with no chance to sit and some dude shoving past with a backpack in your face, knocking your glasses to the floor and bending them out of shape. The "post card from the police"not an item really needed.  And the need now to start all over again trying to book the next segment. I have heard that lecture already three times and it is very demeaning, on and on about how dangerous the old people are. Then a chance to get behind the wheel of a car that is much different from what you usually drive.

When I was growing up, the elderly were respected for their knowledge and experience, In Japan they have begun "Respect for the aged day". What a laugh. I had to work, riding to and from school that day. Any chance to sit went to the youngest and fastest and I was lucky not to be shoved out the door at the stops. I have heard a member of the government say that old people should go out to the mountains and die so as not to take up space and finances.

So ... I decided not to get old. When I reached 50 I began counting in the other direction. This year I am a teenager again (and this time around I am going to get it right). Sunday I went to join a group of Americans at Shibuya where we protested the Trump ... who was enjoying a sunny day (for once) playing golf.

And, upon coming home from the trial, I enjoyed a piece of celebratory cake that Norie had made for the occasion.

She passed it to me as she left the driving school saying to be sure and light the candle. Done!

 I have so many things on my plate but I am afraid to fill in events on my calendar, lest I get a conflict with the #1 driving test.

It would have been nice if I had assembled a bit of take-along work to soothe my ruffled nerves. Maybe while listening to a two-hour lecture ...?

A week or so ago I read an article in the paper about the problem of senior drivers and requiring them to only drive those new self-braking cars. Yeah, and where do they get the money to buy one of those? My list of four accidents were all caused by young men with cell phones. Three while I was stopped for a red light and one when I was parked and unloading my car. I drive a van and can look down into passing cars and it is scary to see how many young people are texting with the phone held below the steering wheel.