21 March 2012

Police Man Pullover

Last Wednesday, per usual, I went up skiing for Ladies Day. As the end of the season draws near, I'm hell bent on getting in as many days as I can. Oh yeah, and it's also FREE.

My friend, M., was driving the van and on the way up to Gifu, and we were flying. Flying as in 140 to 170 km/hour. I was a bit carsick, but I thought the payoff of reaching the mountain in an hour was totally worth it (it usually takes at least an hour forty minutes or closer to 2 hours).

We skied until 4, then piled into the van to return to the city. As we were almost home and merging onto the Nagoya Expressways, sirens showed up in the rearview. Whaaa? M. had tamed down the speeds: were were going a slightly speedy but respectable 93 km/hour.

We would soon find out that the speedlimit on the expressway is an insanely slow 60 km/hour, which is about 40 mph. Whoops.

The police pulled in front of us and we followed them to the shoulder on the Expressway. Straight away, they came over, placed a cone behind our car to alert other drivers, and took M. from our car and put him in the back of their sedan. I would have been more nervous, but the policemen in Japan wear these white helmets even while driving their car, so it makes me smile endearingly at them instead of being afraid... which might not be the uniform's desired effect.

Helmet affection aside, we were in a bit of a predicament. Our driver was in the backseat of a police sedan.

The four remaining girls, well, we have no choice but to sit in the van, watch the car in front of us, take pictures of the situation, and try to text them to M. I'm sure he was super appreciative.

Apologies for the blurry photo, but did I mention that we were stuck on a highway at the time?!

We sit for almost an hour like this, just wondering WHAT is taking so long until we get a text from M. "My license is expired."

Well... shit.

We sent this picture in response.

It turned out that M's license had expired in January, when he was on a trip home and he simply forgot to renew it. The cops had written out the speeding ticket, and he was almost released until they, at the last second, noticed the date. He was given some paperwork and asked to go down and renew his license the next morning (and, I'm sure, get a hefty ticket. This, on TOP of having to buy a lift ticket since he isn't, you know, a lady. The inhumanity!)

The reason we were still sitting on the highway was that the cops wouldn't let M. drive the car since he didn't have a valid license. In fact, none of us had a license with us. There we were, on the side of an elevated expressway, driverless.

From the van, we make a couple quick phone calls (namely, to the friend who's van we were borrowing), but it seemed like it would be very hard to find two free people to drive us home. A couple hour wait, at least. The cops, realizing our situation, suggested a solution: M. would ride in the cop car with one of the policeman, and the other would drive our car, and we would caravan home.

Well, okay then.

The cop removed his white helmet (darn it!), sat in the driver's seat, and we were off. We tried to snap some clandestine photos of the ordeal, but they fail to capture the true ridiculousness of the order. For all the grief I give Japan over their endless bureaucracy, this seemed like a pretty common sense solution. And it did make one hell of a story to share... if you can't have a good day, a good story is a fine substitute? Yes, let's say that, shall we?

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