Thursday, April 26, 2012

Commuter Battlegrounds - The Chicken Race

Fastest man alive!
It's been a while since I revisited the harsh battlegrounds that the Tokyo commute consist of. Not that there is any lack of topics but more due to the fact that most of the days and nights I'm happy to make it out alive with little energy left to write about it...

In the Tokyo stations there are ticket gates that you must pass in and out of the station. Thanks to the electronic tickets it's a pretty smooth thing in principle and a quick tap with the card on the reader lets you through. In most stations there are a few gates going only one way but also a few that switch over and are available both going in and out, if in use they usually stay one-way for a few seconds before switching back.

Today, on my merry way home from work, probably about 20meters from a gate open both ways I looked up and saw a woman approaching the same gate from the other direction, our eyes met, then we both looked at the gate and then back at each other measuring the enemy resolve... Without making it look too obvious I picked up the pace, pulled out my wallet to not lose a valuable second that could give the enemy passage and possibly force me to wait for the gate o switch over, or even worse, helplessly see more people from the other side making use of the gate and hindering my passage...

Around five meters from the gate I looked up again and saw that the woman had also picked up her pace and was about the same distance from the gate as me, again our eyes met and went to the gate. We both continued our path straight forward from opposite sides, but both of us realised that there can be only one winner in the Chicken-Race to the gate.

Around two meters away I looked up again and this time she looked at, looked uncertain and suddenly took a turn to her right, giving me free passage through the gate. I know that if I had shown any weakness she would have kept going and possibly cost me several seconds and steps to another gate. Mercy will take you nowhere in the commuter battlegrounds and ruthlessness is the only way to survive.

Sometimes people ask me how I can do it, keep on going through all the pain and senselessness of it all, but in this world it's all that I know and am good at... After a while you learn to just turn it all off...

13 comments:

kathrynoh said...

It's a pretty smart move on JR's behalf, having those gates that you can use from both sides. Helps stop those dozy cows who don't get their pass out before they reach the gates.

Corinne said...

Whatever happened to ladies first!?

Meibutsu said...

ah, happens to me so often! As a woman, I'd say salarymen are the worst! Women often seem to give way to other women, but guys in suits will rush forward to 'win'. And I admit I'm often stubborn enough to race them, but I try to remember that that small victory is probably the only tiny pleasure they'll get today, besides a little private time in the office toilet after lunch. Salaryman, I don't envy your kaisha life! Good luck in the race.

Martin said...

A woman should know her place.

Anonymous said...

Where's your sense of honor Salaryman?! If there's only two of you, let the woman go first!

Theresa said...

"None shall pass."

Mr. Salaryman said...

Kathrynoh - Yeah, in theory they are great but they can be a pain when people don't know the rules of engagement in the commuter war...

Corinne - There is no such thing as chivalry in the commuter war! The only exception are elderly, pregnant women and children, everyone else is fair game!

Meibutsu - Indeed, it always is a small victory and the reward of getting to the platform a few seconds earlier is great indeed! Being a Salaryman is not that bad but doing the commute is easily the worst thing about it...

Martin - That reminds me, I should do a post about chivalry in Japan (or the lack of)

Anon - Like I said, there is no such thing as "honor" in the commuter war, equality reigns supreme!

Theresa - Not while I'm there!

kamo said...

Oncoming traffic is easy. I'm well over six feet and people tend to make way fairly rapidly. Its people in front of you who are the real problem.

Especially the ones who make such a big fucking deal about getting off the train first, then tackle the stairs like someone's just turned their personal gravity field up to 11. Just let me get off before you, Grandad, I guarantee it'll save everyone time.

Chris said...

You are one of the main reasons...besides the boy at Shin Osaka who got on in a full white long trained wedding gown and then projectile vomited on some folks feet and then fell out of the train the next stop...I think it was a fraternity hazing ritual?...anyway...you and him made me allergic to the local city trains.

Chuck said...

Did "Mama said knock you out" play as you prepared yourself for the possibly single greatest moment in douchebaggery?

Mr. Salaryman said...

Kamo - I feel with you! Those people are real commuter terrorists! There should be some form of ban for not abiding by the unwritten rules!

Chris - Any sane person who doesn't need to does best to stay away from the morning rush hours... Train rage is another always fun topic!

Chuck - Wow, you must live in a very douchebaggy free world if this is the worst you can think of?

Will said...

When my time to enter Assguard comes, I too want to get through the gates at Valhalla before yielding to any of those hapless valkyries.

Next time I venture into a great city where there are trains below the surface, I will pour libations and pray at the shrines, asking the gods for power like that of the great Foreign Salaryman.

Anonymous said...

Hehe! Funny!
Actually I saw something similar last week in Munich, the city where I currently work.
You see, Munich subway-stations sport escalators which can be used in both ways, up and down, and when there's not much traffic (Munich ain't Tokyo, mind you) the escalator stands still until someone steps on the pad in front of it.
I usually tend to take the normal stairway, since sitting at the office-desk burns no calories and walking some staircases gives me at least a tiny amount of exercise during my working day.
Anyway... while exiting the subway in one of Munichs centrally located subway stations, I suddenly saw a couple of two elderly ladies suddenly fixing their field of vision upwards while starting to *run*(!) until they reached the escalator, which accordingly took they upwards to street level.
It wasn't until I also climed the stairway that I saw their opponent in that particular game of tag: an even elderly couple, one at least aged 70 or more, including a walking crutch, who looked completely flabberghasted, that the the escalator they planned to take down suddenly went the wrong way. And since a whole subway train had just arrived, they probably had to wait for a few minutes until they finally made it down.
I suddenly thought of your blog-entry when I saw this event... Dunno if you find it funny, but it somewhat fits, methinkgs.

Related Posts with Thumbnails