Friday, March 21, 2008


Just when I'm trying to be careful and quietly get myself safely to work without incident, I get on the Yamanote Line and suddenly there's someone pushing against the right side of my back as I get on - and as the doors close, they're still pushing away. Meanwhile, there's a man to my left and the closed doors straight ahead - no where to go! The person keeps pushing in a strange way - the way someone might if they are from Mars and they're used to riding completely empty trains and don't understand what the Tokyo morning crush-rush consists of.

I tried to ignore it, but as the person kept pushing at me, I started thinking about it... it seemed less like someone really in a pinch and needing space than someone being weird, so I looked back and discovered a very mean looking woman in her fifties with one of those profoundly ugly brown bags from one of the "brand" bag sellers (good gig - I wish I was in on the money generated by those things - so long as I didn't have to look at them!), who has enough space for two people and has her bag arranged sideways so it pokes into my back, and is holding out a book to read with one hand and shoving at me with the other....

Gentle readers not intimately familiar with Tokyo's very high-density train system, you may even think that's normal behavior. No. It's not. Not in general, and certainly not during the morning crush-rush. As I took in that scene - 1) mean-spirited obatarian, 2) hideous brown bag being used not only as a visual eye-sore, but as a physical weapon, and 3) enough space for two people... something snapped and I spun around (knocking her off balance, since she was pushing on me with all her might) and told her "Iikagen-ni shiro!" (something like "That's enough!" or "Stop it already!"). (The expression is stronger in Japanese than that translation makes it seem). Her snarling expression changed to one of shocked surprise, and I turned around and faced the window again - getting off at the next station.

Agggghhhh.... I don't want to be be in conflict! This is what is typically (and relatively recently) called "kireru" (to snap, or lose control). Even in the cool of several-hours-later tonight, I still think that obatarian needed to have someone tell her that (she wasn't behaving like a civilized human being) - I just wish it was someone else and not me! I want to peacefully commute to work! I don't want to battle my way there! Mattaku!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

No comments: