Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mutual Assured Descruction - Breaking the Balance in Commuting War

As I have talked about in a previous post (see here), on the commute there are always a bunch of familiar faces and I have at least 3 people or so that I see every morning, taking the same train as me from the same station.

I would assume that we are all familiar with each other's faces, but we don't really acknowledge each other since we are just taking the same train and for all I know, we have nothing else in common. I also switch a bit exactly which door I take into the cart (although I do ride the same cart every time) depending on the number of people queuing, so I mix things up a bit. We do compete for the same coveted positions (to sit from the start is not realistic to hope for) in the train, but we stick to the rules of war as governed by proper commuting etiquette.

However, I am now starting to fear that I have shaken the foundations of this tender balance. There is this woman I often see in the mornings (basically every day), nothing particular, a normal 30 something woman heading in to Tokyo for work in the morning, I would assume. The other day I ended up next to her on the train, standing in front of the seats (if you remember my old chart, it would be color coded blue). Due to some minor unbalance in the crowding, we were both basically standing in front of the person sitting down (me slightly to the left and her slightly to the right), but unusually enough, the person sitting down got off at the next station, very unusual since it's not a commuting connection point. As the man got up to his right I saw the opportunity and quickly and gracefully poured myself down in the seat (perfectly coordinated)
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I believe that my action was fair and didn't constitute a breach of the commuting code since it wasn't really completely clear who was standing in front of the man and therefore would have first dibs on the seat. Also considering that we both (at least, I assume as much) healthy adults and that the general "women first" protocol does not apply to the commute. But as I sat down and briefly looked up, I was met with a very hostile killer glare from my female commuting friend...



I followed the proper rules of engagement as no force in form of pushing was used, and I even confirmed with a few female colleagues that the commute is a gender equal struggle, but I am worried that I have now created a new enemy combatant who I will need to watch out for every morning from now on...

8 comments:

Hanoc said...

You could use a disorient tactic and start smiling to the woman. She would provably not know how to answer to that and she will try not to compete for the same seats as you.

This would be the equivalent of disorienting the soviets with love, which sounds funny enough :P

Martin said...

Yes, its hard to make friends during a battle. Especially with stupid women.

aimlesswanderer said...

start speaking to her in English (or, even better, Viking), that will scare her off fast.

Fernando said...

hehehe...I do rememeber when I was in a commute in Tokyo and in the train I gave my seat to a woman who looked at me puzzled and said "iiyo iiyo" and then in the tstaion I saw an old lady with a grocery little cart trying to climb some stairs and I offered to help and the shoock her arm and said "iiyo iiyo"...I guess politness is rather uncommon :D

stepherie said...

you could also offer your lap, with a big grin! try that next time, and i bet her glare will disappear before you know it :)

Anonymous said...

chivalry is dead.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a Japanese guy do this before, when women were standing, and I glared at him but he didn't notice.

Her hatred of you is only temporary, but fierce. I can just imagine what horrors you have done to the gaijin reputation in this woman's eyes.

But if your lady commuter friends are correct, then she's probably just pissed she didn't get the seat herself. No worries!

Mr. Salaryman said...

Well, now a little time has passed and it seems like she has forgiven and forgot the whole sordid affair. Althought it is hard to say since we have not ended up in the close vicinity of one another yet... Maybe she is saving up for some devious revenge on me...

But still, chivalry is dead on the commute, it's an all out war, dog eat dog, sit or be sat at. I can show mercy to elderly and women with young children and disabled people, but never anyone just because they lack a penis! I will never surrender!

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