Stay Behind the White Line


Often I am surprised by what they will show on the news. The other day I was watching TV while eating at a restaurant. They started rolling some footage from a subway security camera. A commentator made some Madden-like markings around a toddler and we could see the kid walk right over to the edge of the platform and drop over the edge. Nobody seemed to notice and seconds later the next train came rolling in…

My heart was in my throat as I prepared for the result of the story when suddenly a figure appeared from between the columns on the other side of the track. He leaped over the rails, grabbed the child and took two leaps back across both sets of tracks and onto the platform on the other side. It was incredible to see; although, I appreciated it much more the second time through since I knew the outcome.

An interesting conversation took place at the restaurant. Nobody could believe that someone noticed the kid and decided to act that quickly. The announcer informed us it was a foreigner and suddenly everyone understood. Their feeling seemed to be that a Japanese person would not risk their life for the kid and/or they wouldn’t make the decision lightly and on a moment’s impulse.

We never got any answer to the really important questions though. Nobody on the same side of the tracks as the child reacted at all… where were his parents?

All of the stations have white lines painted on the platforms and many announcements are made letting us know we should stay behind these lines. If a train is coming in and anyone is careless enough to be over the line the engineer usually lays on the horn.

UPDATE: I found out today that this was footage from Korea. My bosses both told me, “Of course a Japanese person would try to help the child. But, I wouldn’t because I am too old.” The other people present all had long conversations that could be summarized as, “I wonder what someone should do to help?” Basically the gist is that many Japanese people would be busy pondering possible courses of action while the train rushed in. This method of processing is excellent for long term business strategy meetings but might not work out in an emergency.


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