At one of the

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At one of the busier stations on the line, there was a minor disruption in the carriage I was sitting in. Someone spoke in a loud, sharp tone, a disembodied voice carrying over the general hubbub of the crowded train. A few heads turned, curious to see who it was, but bodies blocked the view and soon enough, the loud language stopped.

A few stops later, the train cleared out to reveal an older woman lying down on the bench seat on the other end of my carriage. Her umbrella and cane were propped against the handrail, her shoes neatly tucked under the seat and her head rested on a bundle. She looked tidy but a bit incongruous. Most people who sleep on the train do it sitting up, heads bobbing, chin falling to shoulder as they sit squashed between other passengers.

A few more stops passed and I was nearing my destination. The old woman was still resting as I tucked my book into my bag. When I heard the loud voice from earlier in the journey, I looked up. It was the resting woman, holding up her hands in the air. She lay on the seat calling out "Sumimasen!" "Excuse me!"

She needed a hand to help her rise. Nobody moved. She called again. Nobody moved. Finally, a young college student, dressed in a duffle coat & hand knitted scarf got up and offered his arm. She thanked the young man with a deep, seated bow and a string of humble and polite words.

Then the old woman began spitting invectives at the two uniformed high school boys across from her. "Baka!" she shouted. That was the only word I understood in her tirade, but it means "stupid-idiot" and is very rude. She was telling off these kids for not respecting their elders, I guess. They just sat there, impassive.

I got off at the next stop, with the feisty woman still muttering curses at the boys as she put on her shoes and arranged herself.

Train tickets don't usually include the price of entertainment. What a show!

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