Every week at least once, I have to take a certain train line along the express route from Kamioka to Yokohama.
Aka seven minutes in hell.
The train is full before it pulls into the station, but the foot soldiers of the Japanese economy dutifully plod their way forward, pushing and cramming and twisting their bodies every which way in order to board. The railway workers sometimes have to push people, and their belongings, in to force the doors shut.
Once the doors are closed, you are face to face (or face to chin, or face to chest, depending on your height advantage) with a sea of humanity you do not know and hope never to see again. The man who needs stronger deodorant. The woman smelling of face powder. The older man who had dried squid with his breakfast. The younger man who’s Parental Advisory required lyrics are blasting at you, a flagrant affront.
The average commuter plugs in their earphones or simply closes their eyes and visits their happy place. Mine is a sunny porch near a beautiful garden I once saw in Kyoto. I can’t help wondering about those around me, though perhaps I won’t try too hard to imagine Mr. Profane Lyric’s.
When the trains pulls into the station, we jostle and push and otherwise wrangle ourselves into the (conparitively) sweet and cool air of the platform. Each going his own way, perhaps never to meet again, perhaps never to travel this way again.
Or we might see each other again tomorrow morning.