Monday, February 16, 2009

My morning commute

So my morning commute is something like this... not quite as extreme as there are no pushers... but regular riders will push as hard as the pushers do.

[EDIT] Removed the youtube video... not sure how I was violating terms of service...

Anyway, here is a photo I took on the train. It doesn't really show how many people there are and how crowded it is, but there are a lot. Seriously a ton of people. Each subway car is jammed full - an estimated 450 people. Multiply that times 10 cars in a train and we have 4,500 people. A full subway car comes by ever 90 seconds during rush hour. Sometimes I can't fit on (I don't care for pushing people too hard).
  • The car gets so crowded that the other day one of my mp3 earbuds got jostled out of my ear, but I was helpless to put it back in.
  • As the train speeds up and slows down, people shift against each other and you hear cries of pain.
  • Once I couldn't move my feet as I was being pushed in and I wound up at a 20 degree angle resting on some poor Korean. I couldn't right myself for three stops.
  • Getting out of the train can be a chore, with so many people in the way, so people will push just as hard to get out. Since there is no room to maneuver, I often get pushed off the train and then have to get back on. The other day I noticed someone behind me getting anxious as we approached a stop. I felt a hand on the middle of my back settling in as a jab right below my shoulder blades, preparing to push me out. Not wanting to get poked in such a sensitive spot, I turned around to glare at the young woman and then pushed open a hole for her to get out.
Apparently in Korean culture, relationships are very important. With that in mind, complete strangers don't matter and it doesn't matter if you push them. This is pervasive throughout society and I've heard that it puts a real hamper on police activities - nobody respects them.

All said, I dislike riding the subway at rush hour, but I put up with it. Sara and I were remarking the other night about how we would never get on such a full car stateside, but here we do it with only a little complaining.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sasha, it is really great reading about your time over seas. I actually LOL'ed when you wrote about tipping over on the subway and not being able to get back up..... good times. portland misses you! - Polo Eric