Big Brother is Good


Dystopian future stories have created a certain level of paranoia about being tracked. In Japan, perhaps because their country was not formed by defying government, the level of fear seems low.

January last year I wrote about using cell phones to track your children‘s locations. Well, now they are pushing tracking of adults. Zurich (チューリッヒ), pronounced roughly like chew-ree-he, is an insurance company which provides roadside assistance service like AAA in America. For a long time JAF was king, but now there are many competing services. Zurich is promoting a new service.

In the ads, a young lady has run her front right tire into one of the sharp-edged culverts. As the camera pans up, the image goes to a split screen showing two possible outcomes. In both cases, the woman phones up for help and hears a request for her location. She looks around helplessly, as is often the case in Japan when asked where you are. The right frame continues with a meandering conversation, trying to narrow down her whereabouts. The left frame ends with a quick GPS trace through her phone and a flatbed quickly arriving to take her car for repairs. Of course, they hook her up with a nice rental car to boot.

So, is it better to be paranoid about the disastrous, but unlikely case? Or is it better to take advantage of the daily comfort of knowing help is near at hand?


7 Responses to “Big Brother is Good”

  1. Sylvia Says:

    Depends how much the daily comfort costs! And how bad a driver one is. Of course everyone thinks they’re an excellent driver, no matter how often they transgress the traffic laws. I confess I have “roadside assistance,” but with my clean driving record it’s cheap. Since I drive a Toyota I’ll probably never need it, but if I do it will come in very handy.

  2. びっくり Says:

    I considered it after the battery in my car died, but pushing it about a kilometer to the service station was good for me. 🙂 This is the first used car I have owned; in the past my plan was to not own a car. After moving to Houston and discovering that an impossibility, my plan changed to buy a car and keep it forever, so a new car price was amortized out over many, many years. My first car (a 1988 Toyota) lasted until 1998; I sold it to my uncle, who still drives it today. My second lasted until two years after I moved to Japan. It didn’t seem right to have it rotting away under a tree. Not knowing how long I would be in Japan and not knowing all the tax and license laws, I opted for a cheap used car, but it has it’s issues. Hopefully, with the new battery, I won’t get stuck anywhere.

  3. Sylvia Says:

    Yikes. In my condition, just walking a km to a service station would do me in. That’s my other reason for having roadside assistance–so I can sit in my car and whimper until someone brings me a rental. 😉 Glad to hear that that Toyota is still running. I want my ’90 to last another 5 years. Considering how little I drive, it just might.

  4. びっくり Says:

    If you are putting low mileage on a Toyota, I would expect it to last longer than the average hamburger eater in America. I try to ignore my condition, it stands in the way of getting things done. But, honestly, I did stop pushing in front of the high school and recruit some help for the last 100m or so. First I told the boys who were hanging about that they looked very strong. While they were flexing and admiring themselves, I asked if they could help me. If my car weren’t so small, I’m sure I would have lost them. I suppose, I could have pulled my trump card and told them I was almost three times their age and I pushed the car there by myself. 🙂

  5. Sylvia Says:

    LOL!! (hamburger eaters) Ya, kids these days are so lazy! (Says she who was addicted to music videos throughout the 80’s…)

  6. Stefanie Says:

    This sounds kind of like On Star, a roadside service they are selling in the US as part of more expensive cars and family cars. Supposedly all you have to do is push a button on your dashboard (or upgrade for voice activation) and some nice helpful woman answering the call can locate you and send help right away.

  7. びっくり Says:

    Stefanie – Yes, very much like On Star. The only real difference is that they are tracking the customer through their cell phone.

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