Monday, April 21, 2008

More commuting misadventures

Hiddley ho, readeroonies!

So yet again, I have a story to rival my former entry on my ongoing escapades on the Tokyo railway system. I can only imagine how entertaining these stories must be from where you are, all comfy and cozy in your nice chair in front of the computer. Well I'll tell you, it's a whole different bag of cookies when you live it on the daily... you snicker as I get shivers down my spine. Train lover's paradise my ass - the whole idea that Japanese trains are never late is a total and utter farce. Unless you ride the Shinkansen everywhere, then you're golden as those things are the bizzomb sheezy faheezy.

Anyway, let's go back in time, to a little thing I like to call Friday. Normally a good day, but not on this bleak and rainy morning. Luckily for me, the new station directly in front of my (soon enough to be former) apartment means that a spirited 10-second dash will get me from my building to the front door of the station, which is awesome because I absolutely hate umbrellas. This particular morning I'm running a tad on the late side, but am still just in time to make the train necessary for my transfer.

Or so I think. Now this is a new route compared to before, which is nice on the way back since I sometimes get to actually sit down the whole way home, but doesn't mean a hill of beans in the morning since Toyoko line is just as packed as Denentoshi line. So I get to the station and follow the herd up the stairs to the correct platform. My train is running a little behind, but no biggie. It takes maybe 5 minutes longer than usual, but I finally get to Shibuya for my next transfer and pry myself from the pole that I had been sticking close and personal with for the previous 20-25 minutes or so. They have these station workers there handing out late passes to show your boss so I pick one up, just in case.

Next train: Ginza line. In case you were wondering, yes I do have to transfer more on this route - 4 times in total, but this is less a 10-minute bike ride that I used to have to the station. I pay more, but that's the price for... I refuse to refer to this as comfort, but I'll just say mildly less discomfort. Back to our tale, I get on the train. It doesn't move. Apparently some putz dropped an umbrella on the tracks a few stations up the line, meaning someone has to 1) retrieve the little 300yen plastic special and then 2) run some dumb safety check for the next 5 minutes. Clock's still running, and my hatred and loathing for umbrellas is renewed.

See now really, up until now this is rather ordinary and mundane, but that was all about to change once I got on the Hanzomon line. Finally back in familiar territory on my old stomping grounds, I get on the train and stand next to the door as usual for my normal 2-stop trek on this train. The train stops at the next station, doors open. Then it happens: just as the doors open, I watch as the guy STANDING DIRECTLY BESIDE ME falls flat on his face with a loud THUD! Seriously, this guy landed face first on the platform, and it sounded like a slap to the face upon impact. He passed out right before my eyes and fell like deadwood, and it was just as freaky as it sounds. NO ONE did ANYTHING for a good half a minute... his feet were still on the train as his listless body lay on the ground with eyes still open and a deadpan face- and by deadpan, I mean this guy looked seriously dead. I picked up dude's bag at my feet and shifted it out of the way as I noticed the white gloved platform people saw the aftermath and came over to help. The stretcher was not far behind.

So what did the guys do? Well, first they checked to make sure he was breathing, then they picked his feet up out of the train and laid him out on his back on the platform, and then I noticed one of the guys talking to the train conductor and telling him to get the train moving - priorities people!! I was in total shock as to what had just occurred - as the doors shut, I noticed the kid (he looked like college age btw) come to in total disarray and obviously confused with no clue as to what had just happened.

Don't ask me how, but I somehow managed to get to work only one minute after the bell. And yes, there is a bell if you're wondering, and it sounds exactly like the one you would hear at a school here. I should write something about work rituals here now that I think about it, I'm sure it'd be interesting to more than just some.

So there you have it- I took a good 30 minutes digesting all that before I actually worked, but went on with the day. With things like that, it's no wonder people around here are stressed out and all... jumpy shall we say. It's no wonder that the same day I noticed a fellow co-worker, 25, has recently gotten his first gray hair.

I have never witnessed such a thing as the train incident right before my very eyes, and hope I never do again. As alluded to earlier though, I shall be forced to move in about 4 months or so due to my current living situation, so I'll be moving closer into town to cut my commute at least in half to reclaim some of the 3 hours of my life that the train steals every single weekday. Maybe I'll take up a new hobby... like sleep!

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