Friday, July 11, 2008

"Not as Bad, and Worse"

Just when I tell people that the crush-rush commuter trains here are not as bad as they appear in a video I took in 1991 - "Actually Full Train in 1991 (Why Flex-Time is a Good Idea)" - I take my usual set of trains to work today and am reminded of the bad aspects to rail travel as a sardine. It's not the crowding exactly that is unpleasant, but rather when you get stuck next to an unpleasant individual. An a sardine in a fully packed train, you can't do anything other than stand there and wait for the train to reach a station. Well... to be more precise, you can't do anything in the way of moving to another part of the train, but there are little wars going on beneath the surface, with actions, reactions, subtle attacks, revenge moves, etc. etc. These take the form of stepping on feet, elbows in backs, arms strategically located to protect sides from other's elbows, "accidentally" stepping on a foot of a foot-stomper in retaliation, turning to face someone who has been poking you in the back with a paperback book, standing your ground (by holding on to an overhead bar) against someone pushing into you without good cause (some people will have empty space in front of them, and they *still* lean back against a group of people uncomfortably packed together), and.... many many more things that are very real to sardine-run commuters, but unseen by a casual observer, and completely off the radar screen of people in a car culture seeing a crowd of people smashing themselves onto a train, who have never experienced it.

Most of the time, most people are quite civil with each other on the trains here (as they should be - it would be chaos if they weren't!), but there are some very unpleasant people out there (as you might imagine - they're everywhere after all!), and they are the primary reason that riding the rails to work can be a very unpleasant experience. What's the latest in unpleasantness? Early twenties males who get in front of everyone and walk at a snail's pace - proving how big and tough they are - "I'm not going to hurry, and I'm going to slow you down and make you late to work - HaHaHa!". A certain percentage of early-twenties males in every society are brain-dead neanderthals - they should be forbidden from riding public transport.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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