The Flip Side

I’ve lived in Japan for almost 15 years. I have seen a lot of amazing acts of kindness, and been the beneficiary of such. I have also seen such staggering lacks of common curtesy that it has boggled my mind. At times I have likely been guilty of focusing on negative acts.

Today will be different.

I just changed trains in Shinjuku station. For those who don’t know, Shinjuku is larger than many airports. It is one of the largest transit hubs in the world.

I was rushing to my train. Up ahead were the stairs, and the flow of traffic is moving oddly. More than just slow. I’m just close enough to see that the cause is a young woman struggling up the base of the stairs with a large and heavy suitcase. The crowd behind her is starting to crush in.

From the flood of people coming down the stairs out steps a salaryman. He looks to be in his mid to late forties.

My experience in trains with this demographic is rarely pleasant. Mostly, they are the one pretending to sleep in priority seats. I saw this guy step out, and I don’t know what to expect, but those expectations are low.

Instead, I see a few polite words exchanged. The salaryman picks up the suitcase and carries it up to the top of the stairs.

The traffic flow returns to normal. I got to the top in time to see a quick thank you-goodbye, and he trots back downstairs likely to make his connecting train.

So, there you go. A random act of kindness from an unexpected source. Make of it what you will, but I thought it was worth highlighting.

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