Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Koban Adventure!

So, last week Risa and I made our usual trip to the local supermarket for some grub. We needed some cash so we stopped by the ATM. The ATMs here are more like giant phone booths that are large enough to be modest Japanese apartments complete with an air conditioner/heater. I guess this is meant to make up for the more than worthless bank hours of 9am to 3pm.

The size and convenience of these ATMs is also further proof that Japan has never and will never have issues with transients or vandals. If these ATMs were located in the States I guarantee that they would be inhabited by no less than 20 homeless people, dozens of small fury rodents, and probably a high schooler or two every time you tried to pull out some cash.

But I stray. Upon entering the ATM I discovered some poor schmuck's license and health insurance card lying on the small table next to the machine. Being the upstanding citizens that we are we took the found items to the police box (koban) that sits just on the far side of the market's parking lot.

(I will restrain myself from ranting about the nerve grating fact that I have never seen a person actually stop at the cross walks in front of the market, speeding past kids and grandmothers at 30 km/h as they leave the shop, and carelessly parking wherever the hell they want including directly in front of the bike/wheelchair access ramp! All this while four police officers sit in their little box not more than 100 yards away with their thumbs up their asses! {restraint of actual ranting not included in this post})

Once in the koban I of course leave all the talking to Risa. She hands over the cards explaining that we found them in the ATM not five minutes ago. Now that all four officers have jumped out of their desks and completely awoken from their naps a huge commotion of filing, logging, and note taking explodes into action. One officer starts asking Risa for all of HER information including name, date of birth, residence, and probably blood type. After he has completely hand written this on an official form he tells us to "please wait a bit" and takes it over to another officer about five feet away. This second officer then beings to log all of this information into his computer. Mind you this officer has been sitting here the entire time listening to our conversation! WHY DON'T YOU JUST DO THIS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS STEP WHILE WE AREN'T HERE?! (I think in my mind first in English then in horribly elementary Japanese.)

At this point we have been sitting in the koban no less than 20 minutes. It seems than when items are found in Japan you can request to have them returned to the finder if no one claims them in a certain amount of time. Hence the logging of all of Risa's pertinent information. I could see how this would be nice if we found the guys entire wallet! Knowing how much cash most Japanese carry around with them at all times I could probably pay off our car payment and have enough left over for a six-pack of the quality beer! But the fact is we found only a drivers license and health insurance card of some middle aged factory worker. I suppose if I was a little more shady in character I could use the license to start driving. Which, knowing Aomori drivers I would probably need the health insurance card too.

Around the 2o minute mark when Risa and I have lost all hope in ever returning to our normal lives Absentminded-san himself walks into the koban! He asks if anyone has dropped off a license and health card and everyone has a jolly old laugh. Once the side splitting irony wears of the officer asks him to take a seat and hands him...wait for, he doesn't hand him his cards, he hands him MORE forms! Probably to be filled out in triplicate, lost, found, re-recorded, burried, dug-up, and finally stored in the City Hall basement. (I have actually been there and it resembles the storage facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark!)

As the poor guy was filling out his forms to get his license back Risa and I were finally 'dismissed'. Our 15 minute market trip had turned into an hour long ordeal but somehow I think Ohfuckwhereismylicense-san had a rougher time of it. I hope he brought some snacks and water because he may still be there today! Now I think I am going to go back to the crosswalks in front of the market and walk back and forth extremely slowly for a few hours. Maybe I will drop by and spend a few hours filling out a 'dropped by to chat' form at the local koban, too.