Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wussy Nation #1

Note: Often foreigners living in Japan encounter things they can't understand or rationalize. These may both amuse and infuriate us at the same time. Posts under this heading in MacKenchi will describe such experiences.

Yesterday, while riding on the JR Yokohama line to Hashimoto, a ko-gal (high school girl) sitting on the other side of the train from me tried to get the attention of another young woman sitting one person down from me. Although the train had few riders, this in itself was unusual for Tokyo, as strangers rarely talk, interact, or even look at each other.

The kogal was trying to tell the other woman that there was a butterfly sitting on her shirt. When the woman realized what the deal was, she tried to shoo the insect away - but the butterfly was having none of it, and kept its grasp. The butterfly woman started to cringe and panic, so I stood up and motioned her to be still. I carefully grabbed the insect by its wings (it was clearly tired and trying to rest) and released it as the doors opened for a stop. It was just a small cabbage butterfly - utterly harmless and probably close to dying.

Well, I returned to my seat, nodding my head to the woman as she thanked me - assuming the ordeal was over. For whatever reason, the door stayed open as we stopped for perhaps a minute. The poor butterfly lazily fluttered around outside the train for a bit, then surprisingly flew back inside. I watched as the two women looked on horrifyingly at the butterfly desperately trying to find something to land on that was solid and unmoving. It finally settled on the raised underside of a man's shoe sitting between me and the first butterfly victim. He was asleep, so I thought that was the end of it. He was thin, in his early 20s, dressed in an inexpensive suit and shoes with elevated heels. So the butterfly had space under the arch of the shoe. 

Then both women started talking to the guy and he eventually woke up - a bit confused. When he saw what they were pointing to, he groggily tried to shake the poor insect off with increasing vigorousness. Then he started to panic a bit and looked worried as the train left the station, while he struggled to get the butterfly to release its grip. At this point, I had had enough. I couldn't watch this pussiness any further. I shook my head and walked to stand next to a door further down; my stop was coming up anyway.

The dude kept shaking his foot to the horrified commentary of the two women until finally the train conductor came out of his compartment (we were on the last car of the train) and plucked the poor butterfly off the shoe with his gloved hand. I think he released it out the window, but I was too disgusted to watch anymore.

I mean, GEEZUS, what the F is wrong with this young man? I guess I could understand if he was a little girl with insect phobia (like my wife) - but this was a guy, you know a dude or male of the human species. I guess he didn't inherit any balls from his father. A REAL man would have just picked it off with his bare hands and let it go out the window - or even smack it against the seat frame and kill it. And it's not like it was something icky like a cockroach or dangerous. This guy chose to show what a complete helpless ninny he was.


I'd like to think this is an isolated instance of spinelessness, but my experiences here suggest otherwise. 

Sometime I'll tell you how a little moth fluttering around a dining room in Okinawa turned 5 Japanese science graduate students and their professor into a pack of screaming idiots.


Jason said...

I've been on a Yamanote line train that was fairly crowded when some huge fast flying insect was zooming back and forth down the train car. It would literally cut a swatch in the people ducking wildly out of the way.

I was at the end of the train car, which the insect did fly toward, but I stood my ground. I couldn't really tell what it was, but it didn't look friendly and it was large, like at least a good inch long and fat.

I forget what happened, I think it might have found an open door on its own at a stop.

umijin said...

The other cultural phenomenon here is when there is something actually harmful or dangerous - pretend it doesn't exist. That one makes me laugh harder, until I see someone get hurt.