Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On the Train Platform

I arrived to the station eighteen minutes before my train. After inserting a combination of coins to pay for my 320 yen ticket, I made my way to the mostly empty platform.

Being early has it's advantages. I was able to sit in an empty seat next to an older Japanese woman. Her eyes were closed beneath large rimmed glasses and her head bowed towards the shopping bag at her feet.

The Japanese, I've learned, spend a lot of time on trains. Napping in the process is quite common.  Looking at the clock, I still had about fourteen minutes until my train would arrive, so I took out my iPad to catch up on some reading.  As I read, the platform filled, mostly with school children heading home for the day.

A familiar chime told me the train was approaching, and I stood just as it arrived. Looking over, I saw that the older woman was still dozing. The doors to the train opened and a uniformed swarm of kids began filling the cars. The woman didn't move.

I hesitated for a moment, and then gently touched her shoulder saying, "Sumi ma sen." Excuse me.

Her eyes opened, and I gestured to the train. "Ah!" She looked at me with complete gratitude. "Arigato a gazze mash te." Thank you so very much, she said, and then quickly picked up her shopping bag and ambled onto the train, disappearing among the students.

I boarded the train as well, sat down and finished the article I started reading on the platform.

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