I was actually considering sending Little Prince to Japanese elementary school in a couple of years’ time. Unlike Young Sir, who is best suited to his small alternative-style elementary school, Little Prince is very sociable and could enjoy the large class sizes. But that was before I crossed paths The Morning Machine. I don’t know what else to call it. I wanted to title this post “The Zombie Procession,” but stopped myself because Japanese school children are much cuter than zombies. Then I thought maybe: “The Robot Parade,” but robots, by definition, are more conscious of their environment and capable of far more complex decision making.
So here we are with The Morning Machine. I first encounter it each day at this intersection. From afar, the kids look pretty harmless.
That particular intersection is easy to handle, because I can predict the line’s movement. The children are only allowed to move in one direction. Even if the light is green to cross the street, as one can see on the left side of the intersection, the children do not cross the road because that would deviate from their prescribed path to school, which I’ve shown below with the green arrow. It is not enough that all public school students in Tokyo are required to walk to school, they must walk along precisely the same path, without any deviations.
They step in tune with one another, displaying a level of obedience and unity unheard of in other countries. Here they are approaching the designated overpass.
The line on the left must wait for the line on the right to pass before ascending the stairs. Or I think that is why they are just standing there.
But all this orderliness comes at a cost. For one, the line of students is impossible for other traffic to penetrate. These kids own the road, not because of their brute strength, but because they do not look where they are going. I need to say this again: every weekday morning scores and scores of little kids walk through heavy traffic to school, and NOBODY LOOKS WHERE HE OR SHE IS GOING. They trust in the machine that much. Unity is a very powerful force.
It is a force I am made to ponder each morning as I wait to make a left turn across the sidewalk and into the parking lot of Young Sir’s elementary school. And these kids, every morning, they do not let me move. Or rather, they don’t notice or care that I am even there. I have to wait until there is a break in the line- a glitch in the system, so to speak- and then make a dash for it. And I have to be especially careful about it too, because they are little kids after all, who do not fucking look where they are going.
So here, in a nutshell, is why Little Prince is not likely to attend public school after all.