Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Anti-Mobile Phone Fanatics"

When mobile phones first got small and cheap, it was pretty common to hear a new user talking on one on the train - typically saying something like "Guess where I am right now? - On the Yamanote Line!! I just got my own mobile phone!", or just talking loudly & proudly - suddenly having the freedom to talk on the phone anywhere!

The next step - after cell phones were becoming commonplace - was to encourage people not to talk on the phone on the train unless they really needed to, as the noise could disturb other passengers. About this time, cell phone e-mail kicked in, so was well and good.

Then... they reported that there was a possibility of someone with a cell phone causing interference with a pacemaker and killing someone dead. I don't think there has been so much as a single incidence of this actually happening at any time or any place in the country , but this gave some anti-mobile phone nut cases ammunition to go around verbally attacking people for having a cell phone in their hand. There are even two individuals that I've run into several times (the chances of this happening in a mega-city of 30,000,000 people are not so strong!), who are really wacky.

One is this woman in her late forties or maybe early fifties who - each time she sees someone with a cell phone in their hand - goes over to them and says with a life-or-death urgency "Yamete! Yamete! Yamete!" ("Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!). This might even be okay (sort of... if said in a more human-like manner) if it were in the priority seat area, which is the official area to turn the power of your mobile phone off, lest people start falling over dead left and right, but this attack-creature strikes all and sundry in any part of the train she's in (I've seen her two or three times on one line and once on a different line).

The other attack-biped I've seen several times, is this short, thin man in his twenties, who verbally attacks anyone he sees with a cell phone out in their hand ("What are you doing?! You could poke someone with that!"). Certainly there are some people who will jam their cell phones into people's backs while they're text-messaging on an overly crowded train, but every time I've seen this guy, the train hasn't been especially crowded, so I don't think there was any issue that a normal biped would feel driven to loudly complain about.

What prompts me to bring this up? On the Sardine Run home this evening, an argument broke out half-way down the train car. One (older-sounding) man loudly accused a (younger-sounding) man of poking him with his cell phone. The younger man less loudly denied the accusation, to which the older man accused him of it again in a still louder voice.

I had gotten on the train at its first station, so I was able to wait for an empty train and thus grab a seat. Sitting in my seat comfortably reading a magazine, I and my seat-mates (and nearby standing passengers) looked towards the direction from where the sounds were coming (we couldn't see anything from the seats - maybe the standing people could) with just a very slight sense of minor alarm. Even if things became more heated, the train was crowded enough that the two warriors wouldn't be able to move down the train car.

So how did that turn out? After the heated exchange, presumably the younger man backed down, as there were no more battle noises over mobile phones for the rest of the trip.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

No comments: