Step back, doors closing.

In Japan, they have these men on the train platforms with white gloves whose sole job is to cram as many people onto the trains as possible.

Today was probably the first time in my life that I really wished that somebody was shoving me to get somewhere faster. Because if somebody had shoved me from behind, then I wouldn’t have held the guilt from being impolite and shoving the businessmen in front of me.

I don’t understand what it is about the metro that makes people suddenly approach the speed of bored cows. It doesn’t matter what’s happening, getting on the train, getting off the train, funneling onto or off of escalators…there are only two speeds possible for commuters.

People are either shuffling and looking disinterested (or possibly lost, but those are tourists, and I mostly forgive them) or running and shoving others. Neither of these behaviors is really good for the flow of traffic. What happened to knowing where you were going and just GETTING there?

What especially irks me is that these people who are shuffling and trying to look bored then stand two inches from the edge of the platform, or subtly push in front of you when it comes time to board the train. I queue up politely, but I’m not going to stand at the edge of the platform because the next unenthusiastic woman in expensive shoes is liable to shove me off in front of a passing train (without looking up from her book club selection). So every day about three people get in front of me despite how long I’ve been standing and waiting.

Normally, this isn’t a problem, I don’t really care as long as I’m on the train.

Except this morning, I arrived at the platform about three minutes before the train did. No problem there, that’s what you get when you have to transfer trains. But the problem here was that for some reason, a minute before the train arrived a huge glut of businessmen arrived at the platform.

This morning, the businessmen were making such a big show of being disenchanted with the world around them, absorbed in their newspapers and far too good to do mundane things like care about the metro train. So they shuffled slowly into the car, leaving me standing on the platform waiting. The overhead voice asked them to please move to the center of the car. They shuffled. They stood. They made it onto the train and continued to read, oblivious to the people waiting behind them.

The door dinged that it was closing as I was stepping across into the train. I’ve actually been two or three steps away when it dinged before and still made it on just fine, but this time the guy in the suit in front of me stopped moving. He got on board the train and just stopped dead.

So I have a split second of trying to decide if I’m going to shove him, or if he’ll remember he’s supposed to get out of my way, and the doors close on me. As in I’m standing in the center of them, desperate to get onto the train and unable to move because this guy (who never turned around, glanced my direction, or too his eyes off his precious Washington Post) couldn’t imagine that maybe I didn’t want to get bruised by the door slamming on me repeatedly.

I don’t care how much you think you’re above the commute that you’re on, you’re not above your fellow passengers. Get out of their way, get where you’re going, and then maybe everybody will be much happier.

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