Sardines in a can

A while back, Sleetse–yes, he still posts occasionally–wrote about the crowded trains and how he got stuck being squeezed next to someone who looked like Professor Klump. Indeed, the trains can be impossible at times. I once was on the Yamanote line–the one that circles the center of Tokyo–at 8:30 in the morning and I thought I was going to die. I thought I could prevent myself from being pushed around if I stood in the middle of the car away from the door–I was getting off at Shinjuku and so it would not be a problem as virtually everyone gets off there. WRONG! As the hordes started to press in from both sides, I grabbed a strap to maintain my place, but found my body being contorted and twisted. I would have broken my arm if I didn’t release my hand. Thinking I learned a lesson, I decided to stay near the door the next time only to get my face crushed into the wall next to the door. I don’t see how these people can do it on a regular basis. It would drive any normal person crazy…

But these were just physically challenging situations. I once found myself in a sexually compromising situation, a thoroughly embarrassing incident. When I was still a graduate student, I got a summer job in Japan to proof and edit an English catalog of Japanese Universities for AIEJ. To get to work, I had to take the Chuo Line to Kichijochi and then transfer to the Inokashira Line to Komaba-Todaimae where the AIEJ office is located. On my first day, I didn’t want to be late so I made sure I took the express from Kichijochi. I would change trains at Shimokitazawa to catch the local since the express didn’t stop at Komaba Todaimae. Well, the train was pretty crowded at Kichijochi, and so I thought that when the train stopped at Meidaimae–where a lot of people transfered–I’d move closer to the door since the next stop would be Shimokitazawa.

Big mistake.

I inched toward the door, jostling with the other commuters for the prime “fast-exit” position right in front of the door, but just before it closed, a young lady–early twenties, skirt and blouse, kinda pretty, probably an OL (office lady)–stepped into the fray. Looking down, she forced herself in and then turned 180 degrees to face the door just as it closed. Unfortunately for me, she was standing right in front of me, and her now-obviously soft booty was forced back towards me.

Oh my gawd! It’s so… so… oooh!

I tried to find a strap or rail to grab for leverage so I could push myself away, but none was close at hand. I did manage to create some space by pushing my own butt backwards, but once we started moving again, the commuters–pressed against each other’s body, packed in like vertical sardines–submitted themselves to the movement of the train, freely swaying left and right, back and forth, in uniform waves of humanity, pushing me right back into the unsuspecting OL in front of me. If I had a bag, I could have put it in front of me, but I had none. If I tried to cup myself with my hands, she would have probably thought that I was trying to feel her up… What to do! Well, all I could do was try furiously to create space, but to no avail. And geez, I was young and easily excitable, so–oh no! on no!–she had to know exactly which part of my anatomy was pressing against her from behind. After ten minutes of attempts to create space–this was actually a foolish thing to do, as everytime I created some space I was forced right back into her, simulating a motion that I will leave to your imagination–we finally reached Shimokitazawa and she and I–and what seemed like every commuter in Tokyo–burst through the openning doors. I remained on the same platform the catch the local, while the OL started to walk toward the other end to transfer to the Odakyu line. She momentarily looked back at me, and I was prepared to hear her yell at me: chikan (prevert)! But I guess I looked sufficiently embarrassed that she figured the whole thing was unintentional. But she did give me the dirtiest look.

For the rest of the summer, I left the house 20 minutes earlier, so that I could take the local train all the way to Komaba Todaimae…

Have you ever had a similarly embarrassing moment? In a train? An elevator? Been the victim? The unintentional perpetrator?