Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Commuter Guerilla – The Seat Sniper

Although I have given my observations about commuting in Tokyo the label "commuter terrorists" I should also mention that there are also legal combatants in the field that you have to deal with in addition to the more direct terrorists. But I don't think that there's any doubt in the mind of anyone who has spent any longer time commuting in Japan that every commute is a battle in a war that never ends...

Seat sniping is a skill that some people have developed and I must say that I am still working on developing my own skills. Part is pure gut feeling and intuition and part is knowledge and experience with your surroundings. The art of seat sniping is to scan the area and find a person sitting down who you "know" will get up at a station close to the current location. Then you have to bruise your way to the standing position in front of the person (this can be done by legal "excuse me excuse me" or more rougher illegal pushing means), you need to be placed in a way that makes you the prime candidate for the seat; if you know that he/she will go out of the trains the doors to the right for instance, the best situation is to stand a little to the right since you can pour yourself down in the seat while the person is getting up in a beautiful coordinate seat swapping ballet and completely block any other potential sniper.

Learning the faces and commuting patterns of your fellow travelers is one way to get better, if you recognize one person who you know get off at a certain station, energy should be directed to getting in the pole position for this. But you can also learn to read the signs of people about to get off the train soon: nervously looking at station names, watches etc. is one possible indication, also putting down the book, Nintendo, iPod etc. in the bag can be one (the one I hate the most is the "teaser", the one who puts down the book in the bag, sits for a few minutes and then busts out a bigger book...). But it is not easy and takes time to master and I am working on my skills to become the best.

7 comments:

William said...

lol While I have only ridden subways a few times in my life, I know from long travels when I'm not driving that I'm a 'teaser'.

Andrew said...

I've got my seat sniping technique highly polished but then being 6'4" (193cm) tall and 96kg, blocking other commuters to the seat is not much of a problem:)

Mr. Salaryman said...

William - The Teaser... I hate those guys and I'm pretty sure they do it on purpose!

Andrew - Yeah, but it's like they say; "all is fair in love and commuting" and "might makes right on the train"

Martin said...

Might makes right! Yieeehaw!

Or the terrorists win.

aimlesswanderer said...

Doesn't your gaijin perimeter assist you somewhat while you commute? If it is completely packed, I understand, but if it's less crowded don't you get a bit more room?

Mr. Salaryman said...

Martin - Yes, now it's full on terror on war!

Aimless - Well, the Japanese genes in me make me kinda blend into the collective mass and although I'm hardly small, I'm not a giant either...

aimlesswanderer said...

Oh, not strange, err, foreign enough looking. So do people always speak nihongo to you when they see you? That is the ultimate confirmation that you 'can become a full member of Japanese society because you look Nihon enough'.

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