Let's see if I can give an example.
Bessie suggested that maybe the summer might be a good time for Leiya to get a driver's license. Ok. From my point of view this is going to take a couple months and runs into lots of money. But yeah. It's about time to think about that. Leiya is 18 now. She'll be 19 in July. In Japan kids can get a license from 18 and they use the break between high school and college to go to driving school. But driving school is a very expensive business in Japan and I've heard that it is runs around $2000. The driving school has teachers and special cars and special courses to practice on. At the end of the course you can go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and take a test. If your are in your 30s this may cost you $3000. If you are in your 40s you can expect to pay about $4000. I don't know where this leads since I don't know any people who have gotten their license past age 40.
So as I talked with Bessie all this was running through my mind.
"Ok, yeah. We can use some savings for this. Should Leiya go to driving school in Ohio or in California? (she may visit California this summer.) I think the local community college gives driving lessons. She could register there and maybe be finished in two months."
As I was fumbling to make a comment to Bessie's suggestion she said,
"I think we could drive around with Leiya for a couple weeks in the neighborhood and then take her down to the DMV to get her license."
Again my head starts spinning.
"Oh that's right. Leiya may not have to go to driving school like in Japan. I could give her practice on the California roads this summer. But she'd need a driver's permit wouldn't she? I wonder how the California laws work."
In Japan you're not allowed out on the streets unless there is a licenced driving teacher beside you.
Bessie pipes up again,
"I don't think she needs a permit since she is already 18. That's only for the younger high school students. We might even be able to take her down to the DMV over spring break."
It is all so easy in the States.
I have a foreign friend here in the city who decided to bypass all the drivers school fees by just walking into the DMV and taking the road test. She figured she'd driven in the States the past 20 years, how bad a driver could she be? Hah! She was frustrated to tears. I think she took the test 6 times (over a six month period) and she'd get in the car, start the engine and the examiner would say,
"Ok. You failed. Try again next month."
"What! I haven't even released the break yet!"
It seems that there is a certain routine taught in driving school that you have to follow to get the examiner to even consider you. Something like: Get in the car. Put your seat belt on. Adjust the center mirror. Test the brakes. Look over your right shoulder. Hold the steering wheel with your thumbs pointing up, etc. etc. If you get one point of the routine out of place, that's it for you. Too bad. I can remember my friend practically crying and when she finally did get her Japanese license Tetsu's comment was,
"Wow! That's fantastic! She got her license after only 6 tries? I've never heard of that before. Unless you go to driving school I didn't think anyone had a possibility of getting a license at all!"
As for me, thirty years ago I went to the DMV and handed them my California drivers' license. The DMV kept it for two weeks, decided it was legitimate and gave it back to me along with a Japanese license. No test. No asking if I'd ever driven on the left-hand side of the road. No checking to see if I could recognize a Japanese stop sign or not. I shake my head now to think what a danger I was those first couple years of driving in Japan. The stricter system of today may be a pain but all in all I think it may be safer for everyone involved!
And for all the new drivers out on the road, there is a badge (about the size of a person's hand) that has to be visible to other drivers on the road to let them know you may be a hazard to the cars around you. It is called a young leaf mark!
And this is an autumn leaf badge that also should be displayed on the cars of older drivers, also to warn other drivers of your possible delayed reflexes!
I can't imagine either of these badges making a big hit in the States.