Friday, September 11, 2009

Commuter Terrorists – The Blocker

As I am a salaryman, my primary means of transportation is of course, the subway and commuter trains. I use this to and from work as well as to appointments outside the office with outside parties (customers, suppliers, whatever). To say that I like the trains would be pushing it, but they are quick and effective means of transportation, especially compared to taxis which can end up quite costly and time consuming.

Taking a train during the day or weekends is usually no big deal, it’s pretty easy and not too crowded and for longer trips you usually can sit down as well. The problem is during the rush hours where the trains are crowded, smelly, humid and hot. However, as this is the only reasonable way and humans are quick to adapt this pretty quickly becomes routine and something you accept as a part of daily life, but not necessarily like.

But… there are some types of people that makes the commute a lot more unpleasant than it has to be and I thought I should start a brief series about these people that disturb my otherwise peaceful commute. This first time I thought I should mention “The Blocker” (note that “the public porno reader” who so annoys many female commuters will not be included in this series since I find them pretty entertaining, they usually look… a little less than savvy…)

The Blocker is usually a middle aged woman, looking like she is not commuting to work, probably is taking the train on another errand and is not used to commuting in rush hours (us Salarymen have evolved into some form of hivemind most of the time and automatically fall in line into proper commuting manners). The problem comes up when I enter the train and, like all veteran commuters, I try to get into the “corridor” of the train in front of the seats. This has a few purposes; 1. it frees up space for people coming in after me 2. It allows me to put my bag up on the shelf or at least be lined up for it if I end up behind someone, and finally 3. It puts me in a pole position to sit down later on if the person sitting in front of me gets off before me.

The Blocker is usually standing at the “entrance” to the corridor blocking the path into it and forcing me to stand in the vicinity of the doors, which is commuting hell since you have to move at every station to let people out and in. The Blocker usually has lots of space behind her in the corridor but is not receptive to the thought that people might want to get past her into the peaceful corridor of the train. You could think that this is a strategy from her since she’s getting off at a station close by and does not want to move back and forth from the depths of the “corridor” too much, but this is not always the case. On many cases have I’ve seen a blocker ride over 10 stations…


I have not yet found a good solution to this issue, the only thing that actually seem to work is to pretty violently try to push your way through, but a good blocker doesn't care and resists.

Coming up next: "The Hanger"

12 comments:

RMilner said...

We have the 'Blockers' in the London Tube too! This morning I was blocked by two of them.

My cunning strategy of saying, "excuse me, please" and pushing past worked well.

ThePenguin said...

Have you moved to Pyongyang without telling us?

Anonymous said...

Haha! So true. I think that you need to adopt a new strategy to move past the Blockers - no hard pushing and shoving. You are better than that. Use your large white ass to your advantage and "wiggle". Far more effective. Trust me - they will definitely try to get away from that!

Peregrine Merceron Smythe said...

There is no way to avoid this other than leaving Japan. If you want to see Japan at its worst, the trains are a pretty good place to start in my opinion. Inconsideration, lack of manners and rudeness are a characteristic of every journey. When in Rome...

lina said...

I guess anywhere in the world, there are blockers just to annoys us who had to rush to work daily.

DBR said...

I live in Nagoya and, as a non-worker, my train travel is usually outside of peak hours when the whole train is necessarily 'blocked' end to end, and I have to say I find that all native Nagoyans are blockers. Being used to great PT in Melbourne, particularly trams which don't have enough doorway for people to block without severely screwing things up, I automatically move into 'the corridor' when I get on. I find that I always have to move through a huddle of people to get to it but it is almost always blissfully empty in the middle AND I get first dibs on any seats which open up!

Mr. Salaryman said...

RMilner - I wish that such a sublime strategy would work, but it just doesn't...

Penguin - and if I have...?

Anonymous - Yes, unfortunately my ass is not completely white since those pesky Japanese genes are disturbing things and I have the feeling that too much wiggling might land me a "groper!!!" call and a trip to the police station...

Peregrine - Yes, but most people in the morning are kinda in on the deal, it's the rule breakers who are the problems...

Lina - Yes, I need to set up an advanced home office so I can reduce my morning commutte to walking, only in underwear, 4 meters inside the apartment

DBR - Yeah, I have a feeling that you understand me and we connected here! You have the same strategy and know how much an annoying blocker can mess that up...

ThePenguin said...

Well if you have, we'd have to meet up for a drink.

ansgar said...

The sweaters are my least favorite ones. Sweaters as in sweat, that is. Not the apparel. You can most of the times identify them by looking after the sweat-rag they keep in their hands (if the floods pouring down their forehead isn't enough). It's still a mystery to me why some japanese men sweat so extremly much.

Auberginefleur said...

I just say "gomen-nasai, ne" in my naturally high-pitched girly voice, and it nearly always gets me through.

ps. Penguin, Pyongyang?! What's that all about? Have you been hanging out with the Sakai couple?

Foggia said...

Got a "blocker" on the way out today... Was listening to some music, his back to me and blocking the way to the door. He did not react to "sumimasen" or the more direct "orimasu", did not even bulge when I tapped twice on his shoulder.

I decided to do as when Blockers won't let me in the corridor, and just shoved him out (as nicely as I could, no hitting him or anything). But wish I could do things more politely if people would allow me!

Tavish said...

ahhh. reminds me of my early days in tokyo.

i think i was a blocker for the longest time.. lol

squeezing into the corridor seemed so hard and awkward so i`d just stand at the first spot i found, confused and desperately waiting for my station.

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