Yesterday I noted another in the long list of peculiar behaviors on the train, but let’s fill in some back story first.
One reason I like to ride the train is, when driving I have to operate the vehicle in a safe fashion, but on the train I can sit and relax. Let’s be honest; this is just theory because all sorts of things might disturb my calm on the train. For example, I did not get a seat yesterday. My hope was to take a 50 minute nap, but that was not to be.
After my station and Ise station about half a kilometer away, the next stop is halfway to my destination. The following stop is half again the distance. One more stop takes us halfway again. Er… wait, this is sounding like a story problem from sixth grade. Anyhow, the point here is that for every stop where I can’t sit down, the purpose of sitting vanishes rapidly. Accomplishing this goal is a science for me including choosing the car with the highest passenger turnover. Unfortunately I was foiled because only one passenger in my section left their seat – unusual to say the least.
Sometimes all it takes is one person leaving for me to get a seat since I watch passengers closely for any sign of ‘preparation’ and sidle over to them if they are ripe for departure. But today a middle-aged woman – just older than me – showed some intense and unique seat grabbing skills. For clarification, middle age is always just a little older than me.
Generally it is not so polite to grab up a seat at the moment it is unoccupied. It is considerate to stand around pretending like you really don’t want the seat and waiting for one of the other fakirs to be seated. After a sufficient waiting period of sensing your surrounding passengers’ intentions, it is acceptable to descend into comfort. Seeing men adhere to this protocol is extremely rare, so I spend no time hesitating before grabbing up some territory; however, an overwhelming percentage of women stand on this formality.
Yesterday, my slightly elder neighbor was no exception, she waited for an extremely long time. Also, she really hammed up the I’m-not-at-ALL-interested-in-sitting face. Two ladies next to her were not strong in the acting realm and kept feinting for the seat and eyeing it wantingly, yet never taking a seat. Enough time passed that I was tempted to wander over and sit down, but she eventually took her destined and valued throne.
Her secret, you ask? She was very skilled at standing so completely in the way that one would have to give her a good shove to be rewarded. Her balance was perfect; far enough to sell her disinterest, yet near enough to guard. Any but the most highly-trained eye would have thought nobody on the train wanted to sit.