Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A Narrow Escape

As my train swooshed into the subway station at a good clip I saw a several small squadrons of troops marshalled on the platform. They were spaced apart about every other door. Each squad contained approximately twenty troops and they were perfectly lined up in five rows of four. As my train slowed to a stop and the doors opened the command was given and each squadron stormed their door. Two such squadrons invaded my subway car and one entered the door I was standing close to. Their precision attire matched their precision execution. Each wore a matching yellow cap, matching brown outfits, right down to the matching socks and shoes. It had been raining this day, and each had a yellow cover for their matching backpacks and matching yellow umbrellas. As they flooded the door closest to me I feared for my safety. I was relieved when they mostly ignored me, instead getting ready to surf the subway. As the doors closed they grasped one another’s hands, arms, or any other handy purchases, and as the train accelerated, the squad flowed like a blob of mercury. Hanging only on to themselves they flowed with the momentum of the train, drifting backwards under acceleration, side to side with the sway of the cars and forward as we slowed to a stop. As we got going several of the curious looked up at me, a gaijin, a strange face on the subway. I was interesting, almost as interesting as they were. The school children started whispering to one another, more furtive glances in my direction. My stop was coming up and I had to get out the door lest I be late for school. I became worried, as my path lay directly through the blob, would I be able to wade through and make it to the door before the conductor blew his whistle and sped off to the next station? As the doors opened I bravely took on the mass of children, cheerfully uttering a quick ‘Sumi masen’ (excuse me) and then a relieved ‘Arigatoo gozaimasu’ (Thank you very much) to the children’s teacher as I breathlessly slipped unscathed on to the platform.

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