If you commute long enough it is inevitable to start recognizing the people on the train. We are following our habits, and our habits have the habit of placing us next to one another time and time again. So there is the man with a broken arm often occupying a corner priority seat. Then there is the lady whose face I have never seen. She is always sleeping with here head on her knees, never looking up, often occupying one of the other priority seats. Then there is the worn-leather-smart-phone-folio-with-palm-trees-case-lady and the girlish-plastic-phonecase-woman. There is the blue-inear-headphones-man and so-many-rings-on-one-hand-guy. 

I have come to realize that it is often easiest to recognize someone from their smartphone or their apparels. Also I think it might more polite than staring at someone’s face. Although the people sitting on the priority seats playing smartphone games ignoring pregnant ladies I have a strong urge to stare at. Maybe it makes me a bad person, but for once I do not care. My rudeness can be nothing compared to the level of rudeness that consists in ignoring pregnant ladies with big stomachs struggling on crowded trains. I hope. And I hope I will never be so shut off from the world that I do not care about pregnant ladies. 

Commuting in Tokyo is a big complaint of mine. My wife tries explain those people, saying they just don’t understand. And that only makes me even more upset – if you sit on a priority seat without being a priority person, and there stands a pregnant lady in front of you, and you do not understand that you should offer her your seat – then I do not think you are able to understand anything, I say. My wife tries to say that it might be embarrassing for them to offer their seat. If that is too embarrassing to do, they should really not sit there in the first place, I say.

Maybe I do not want to understand; actually, I really do not care about silly reasons for not offering my pregnant wife a seat. Today we asked the station staff about the troublesome situation with the priority seats, and I could see the level of uncomfort increase in the man as he tried to explain that unfortunately this is how it is, that if people do not care then it cannot be helped. And that made me even more upset – could you please tell your manager that the train company is irresponsible, I wanted to say. 

But there is change coming – my wife finally today gave me permission to ask for a seat for her next time. I just hope that level of rudeness does not surpass everything I have been complaining about here. And I hope this last sentence will be possible to take as irony.

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