I bid my sensei farewell and headed to to the platform for the next train. My training had just ended and the journey back to my dormitory would take approximately 40 minutes long. Feeling hungry, I stopped by the nearest “konbini”- convenience store and grabbed an onigiri to eat before scurrying off.
Pheet, “電車が到着します train is arriving”
At that point, a railway station attendant (A), or rather what they call “a pusher”- (workers who are usually known in Japan to push people into trains during rush hours)- reminded us to stay away from the lines and be careful of the gap in between. There was another attendant (B) who assisted this lady with huge baggage over to this side of the platform, who had probably landed on the wrong side of the direction. He then ensure that the door closed and fitted properly before bowing to her and then they both (A) and (B) gave a cue to the train operator that it was safe to depart.
As the train started to accelerate, the two were still standing mobile on the platforms, one smiling and nodding while the other exchanged some mild gestures and conversations, waiting for the next train to arrive and repeat the very same procedure they had just done a minute ago- keeping things in order. By this time, the train had long travelled away from the station, but their facial expressions and majime-serious attitude were imprinted in my mind.
“What kept this people moving on….?”
Sometimes I wonder..
What’s the world gonna be like,
If I were in the shoes of a Railway attendant,
will I be able to stand all day long
pushing all these people into trains,
and keeping the systems running on time
without feeling tired or losing my passion?
If I were the lady in the convenience store
or the cook in the nearby restaurant
will I be able to stay all day long, all year long
serving by the counter or making those thousands of dishes
for the amount of money I get every hour?
Or if I were to be the security guard in my dorm,
will I be able to greet some of these naive students
who dread climbing out of bed to school every morning,
while still keeping a friendly smile going on?
Perhaps I can’t.
But if I were them,
do I have a choice to say “I can’t.”?
And sometimes I wonder,
What’s the society gonna be like,
if our world is deprive of people like them.
Being young feels good, but it’s like what American Author David Foster Wallace said in a commencement speech, we are still tiny fishes living in the water, yet we don’t know what “water” really is. Today, we are standing on a dock, gazing out at the green light far away, feeling hopeful that one day we will achieve our dreams and be “successful”. Some of us may have different dreams, dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, teachers, or rich entrepreneurs; dreams of marrying the right person; dreams of travelling around the world…etc. But here at this point in time, we tend to fall into the trap of living at the center of the universe, as though we are the single most important person in this world- where we are concern only about our own feelings and results.
One day perhaps we will achieve our goals in life and lead a more fulfilling one. Or maybe we’ll just end up with a boring job that we all have to cling on to, to ensure that life goes on. But no matter who we become, we must accept the fact that our comfort and convenience of life is always built upon the expense of countless others who share the same dreams as we had from the very beginning, who pretty much share the same kind of suffering and aspirations for happiness as we do. Because ultimately we are all humans.
At night when I’m in deep sleep, in every corner of this city, there are actually people who are still working hard and striving for a better life.
Just some random thoughts on a late night. With gratitude,
Photographs- with courtesy of my friend, Michael Lin whose work can be viewed at insignia.lofter.com