I’m turning left. Be careful. I’m turning left. Be careful…

truck-small.jpg Imagine waking up every morning to the sound of a talking truck. Or several talking trucks, loudly saying, over and over again, I’m turning left. Be careful. I’m turning left. Be careful… (左に曲がります。ご注意ください。)

My apartment is on a busy corner, and that sound is the first thing I hear every morning, because in Tokyo (and the rest of Japan too, I guess), trucks talk. Their vocabulary appears to be really limited, but from what I’ve been able to ascertain so far, they seem to have perfectly mastered this one I’m turning left. Be careful… phrase and really like to say it. A lot. Especially as they round the corner outside the window of my apartment. At 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning.

Some know-it-all friends of mine have told me that the reason so many trucks have decided to say this all the time is so that visually impaired people can realize there is a truck turning left directly in front of them, thereby preventing the people from wandering straight into the blind-side danger zone of the truck’s path while it’s in the middle of making a left turn. (Remember that vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road in Japan, for some reason. And on top of that, drivers sit on the right — the side which the steering wheels in vehicles here all seem to have been moved over to. Yeah, I know it all sounds crazy, but it’s true.)

But I think there is some other hidden purpose to this “truck talk” — similar perhaps to the purpose of those shortwave radio frequencies where all you hear is the voice of a woman with a Spanish accent repeating the same letter of the alphabet over and over again: f f f f f f f f…

3 Comments so far

  1. James Hart (unregistered) on July 21st, 2005 @ 10:53 am

    “Remember that vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road in Japan, for some reason. And on top of that, drivers sit on the right — the side which the steering wheels in vehicles here all seem to have been moved over to. Yeah, I know it all sounds crazy, but it’s true.”
    Doesn’t sound crazy to me – about a 3rd of the world’s population (in about 75 countries) drive on the left, and sit on the right (of course).


  2. Michael (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 5:42 am

    Vehicles travel on the right-hand side of the road here in Missouri, for some reason. And on top of that, drivers sit on the left — the side which the steering wheels in vehicles here all seem to have been moved over to. Yeah, I know it all sounds crazy, but it’s true. Took some getting used to.


  3. Michael(tm) Smith (unregistered) on August 1st, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

    Enlightening comments. Thanks.

    Speaking of Missouri, I guess I should mention that I’m from the Bible Belt, and after I moved here and bought my first pickup truck here, the next difficulty, after getting familiar with the whole left-side/right-side confusion, was figuring out where to put my rifle rack. I first tried putting it the way I had it on my truck back home, but I just couldn’t get used to it that way, with the guns pointing in the wrong direction relative to me, the driver.

    So I figured, hey, if I put the rifle rack on the outside of the truck, the guns will be pointing in the correct direction and everything will be fine.

    Well, the same day I moved the rack, I drove down to the local Baptist church here, parked my truck, and went in for the service. (It was a good one — the preacher talked about how even though the Catholic Church is still the Great Whore of Babylon, at least it now has a Pope who decries the sins of masturbation and homosexuality as much as God does and we Baptists do.)

    Anyway, after the service, I got back to my truck and my heart almost stopped. Where my rack had been, right there on the outside of the truck, there was now nothing. The rack, the guns, all of it, gone. Somebody had taken it. And right in front of the house of God. I couldn’t believe it.

    So I guess my advice to other people in Tokyo is: Don’t put your rifle rack on the outside of your truck. Or your rifles.



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