This morning I've been out at a major intersection wearing a banner, handing out pamphlets and reflectors and smiling at people who are passing by in cars. I do this twice a year because I am an official Traffic and Safety officer. Sounds impressive doesn't it? It's not.
As a member of a neighborhood in Japan, (as a member of the society!) we are "encouraged" to play a role in the politics of the neighborhood. Lots and lots of positions. Health and Sports committee, Environment and Sanitary committee, Women's committee, Community Center committee. There are lots more. I was asked to be on the Traffic Safety committee and I get to represent our neighborhood at different events. This week is traffic saftey week in Japan and to show support we were asked to meet at the corner of the intersection at 7:30 this morning and give out pamphlets to cars that stopped at the light. There must have been 10 of us ladies (I was the youngest) and another 10 older men, plus 4 or 5 police officers. The men have very official looking yellow jackets and cloth police hats. We ladies are required to wear our banners that proclaim TRAFFIC SAFETY. The drivers do not seem very happy about having to roll down their windows and receive the pamphlets but most of them comply. I smile a lot and tell them to drive carefully. I have no idea if this really has any effect on traffic safety. Personally, I don't think it is a very necessary activity. No one reads the pamphlets (they are handed out everywhere anyways and are more related to police activity anyway, sort of a wanted poster). Maybe if someone official looking was there daily the drivers might be more careful when coming to the intersection but twice a year for one hour? When we finish we are given a bag of goodies to thank us for our time but it seems a waste of tax payers' money.
Tetsu took my picture this morning and commented that when I was younger I wouldn't have been caught dead standing on the street and being so visible but this is the third year I've done this and I guess as I get older I do want to show that I am trying to cooperate with the group concept. I'll do this again in the autumn but for the rest of the year there isn't much else to do except write up a report on what I did (nothing). I'll try not to eat all my goodies today.