Friday, 27 August 2010

Train manners (again)

JR  manners sign
A picture dedicated to my dear friend Lily, who has been staying with me in Tokyo this week.   The picture made me chuckle, as it's exactly what happens.   It's quite disappointing how many *non priority people* use priority seats. Outside priority seats it's survival of the fittest.  With a 1,3 and 6 year old - none of whom can reach the over head straps to stop them falling over if the train lurches -  Lily is far more deserving of a seat than most of the people who can be found in the priority seats....  I think only once in three days did anyone offer a seat to her, and that was a nice lady who let her boys take the front seat on the Yurikamome monorail. 

A rude man
The kind of person who sits in the priority seats can be seen in the picture on the right  -  a man who after physically pushing me out of the way to slide into the seat (regular seats not priority) on my way home this evening,  would no doubt  have been content to sit, pretend to sleep and   'think of excuses' had a person bent over with a walking stick stood in front of him.     One of my other friends in Tokyo was carrying her just two year old and asked someone in the priority seats if they wouldn't mind standing  - and was met with  expletives in otherwise impeccable American English..... from a mid 20s, well dressed Japanese woman. (Admittedly extremely unusual.)

The Baby Badge
Sometimes it's tricky though.  I'm quite happy to give up my seat (easy to be generous in this respect when I am rarely on the train for more than 25 mins)  and have few compunctions about suggesting to someone else that they stand for a fellow traveller who obviously  needs a seat, (some times to Hiro's embarrassed dismay....)   but less obviously pregnant people are tricky.  I got a death glare a while back  from someone, whom I presume was unfortunately proportioned rather than pregnant as I had assumed...  That has prompted me to sit on trains and ruminate on whether it is worse to insult the person in front of me by  misjudging them as pregnant, or worse to not give up my seat for her....  Fortunately the railways issue a baby badge (above) that alerts people to the fact the person wearing the badge (usually attached to their bag) is pregnant.  How effective it is in persuading people to give up a seat?  Probably not very when I see people burrow into their mobile phone while  Lily trys to balance three little people ....
All that said though we had fun on the trains - checking out the Shinkansen zipping past, watching the speedometre in the drivers carriages, doing chin ups on the over head straps ;)  With one adult, it would have been a lot less fun.


Anonymous said...

Have blogged about similar things myself. The lack of concern for other people is astounding to us weterners, eh? Many Japanese people would rather die than help a complete stranger. I can count on one hand the nuber of times I was offered a seat when pregnant (clearly visibly basketball sized stomache stage of pregnancy) on the train during the morning rush. I use the trains a lot and even with two kids, you hardly ever get offered a seat and NOBODY helps you with the buggy. Must ahve been awful to ride a crowded train with three tiny people to consider. In the past I have woken people up who were feigning sleep in the priority seats and luckily have never been met with any verbal abuse.

Lifts are another place you meet selfish people. Try getting a double buggy on an escalator or up station steps. I had to resort to pressing the open door button (repeatedly) in an attempt to piss people off so much that they would get out and let me and my big buggy in. Terrible I know! I was risking a punch in the face, but hey, perhaps it made them think a little about their behaviour. I've seen people in wheelchairs made to wait for a lift whilst able bodied lazy people get in the lift before them. Drives me mad!

gaijinwife said...

That would be one thing that would piss me off if I lived in a big city. We don't have a train in Kunimi and during all of my pregnancies, for the most part, I got very good treatment - even if it meant remembering which ladies at the local supermarket would help me life things and pack my bag :D

Poor Lilly having to cope with her three on crowded trains. The thought of having to ride a crowded train on my own with Shou, Marina and Ryu and I think I would rather stick my tongue to a block of ice or similar. Plane trip in October is going to be painful - but I guess hub will be there, whether that proves to be helpful or not...

Cecilia said...

We actually had fun, Reo was so interested in everything outside & I held Tomoya while he did chinups on the hand straps ;).

I'm thinking of starting a shame file - photographing rude people on the train & platform! But I might get pushed onto the tracks though. Definite potential for a shaming reality TV show :)

Lily said...

I was in a good mood because you were there but I have been so extra foul in the past few months that I even turned around and yelled "lazy F*!#ers" (well the F word was implied by my tone of voice )to the people lining up to use the elevator (they were all 20 somethings) after waiting a horrendous amount a time with the stroller as these people who could use the stairs filed in. People looked at me as if I was "crazy" for raising my voice.
Thanks for the good time in Tokyo- stamping their sketch books and the amazing variety of trains we went on was too fun.
I like your blog idea- even better is to have the pics shown on the big screen in Shibuya with a big caption "I'm a lazy bum".