Friday, November 30, 2007

Train Etiquette

While being smushed on the train at 7 am this morning on my way to work on the Denentoshi Line the most phenomenal thing happened to me--someone was courteous on the train! Really. I wasn’t hallucinating from the stifling heat blowing from the air vents even though the body heat of 5,000 passengers is enough to fry your noodles into yaki soba.

When the train stopped at Mizonokuchi station 600 people stampeded onto the train whose dimensions are designed for about 40 people comfortably. As usual, before I had time to pick my feet up to move out of the way on my own accord I was swept up in the undertow of salary men, being rocked and shoved like a 17th century sailor near Cape Hope. I’ve learned to swim in the treacherous morning train seas, so I didn't skip a line of the book I was reading as the whirlpool swirled me around.

The only difference this morning was that as a Japanese man came barreling towards me from the might of 56 men pushing behind him he said, “Please excuse me.” I couldn’t believe it. I thought for a moment that I was in another country, but the familiar pressing on my ribs of school bags and elbows reminded me that I must still be in Japan. His manners made me feel like more than a cow being crammed into a cargo hold—I felt like a real person that deserved to be given a small apology for plowing into my body.

To the anonymous man on the train who knows at least three English words: Thank for saving my dignity and recognizing that not all people find it normal to be jammed into a narrow train as if testing the number of people to survive with no oxygen.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well well, look who turns up halfway around the world.

Saw our names come up in acknowledgments for a book. Thought I'd at least try to find you to wish you well.

ME? I never did wind up in Japan, a different career opportunity presented itself. All the same, I'm happy for you.

I'm easiest to find on