9-5, Tokyo, Japan

We were laughing and lively, as we often were. It had been a hard year. We were learning to trust each other again. Japan was our cure. Or at least, it was our band aid.

The train sped on. Our vibrations matched its speed. I was in equal fascination and oblivious disregard of the unique culture around me. At the moment, I peeked in awe at the traditional garb of an older woman near us, her satin kimono draping delicately to the floor like a long, slender, shiny leaf. Much of the time, I obsessed over the food. Other times, I obsessed over customary mannerisms we observed around us. Sometimes, I was just lost in you.


A sudden bang of loudness startled me from our gaiety. All heads on the train swung around, like doors on loose hinges.

It was a portly man, perhaps in his 50s, briefcase in hand and as impeccably dressed as the rest of the white shirt, black jacket, 56-hour-week crowd that squashed into the overstuffed-sushi-tray-rush-hour traffic of the train. And he was flat on his face.

A swarm of hands and conciliatory murmurs reached out to lift him gingerly back to his wobbly feet. His eyes still slept through his mumbles of groggy gratitude. He had collapsed asleep, face to floor, in exhaustion. And no one was surprised.

“Ah, yeah…seen that happen so many times,” you said. “It’s sad…”

“Did he really just fall asleep standing?!” My hushed, anxious whisper squeaked in disbelief.

People of Asia work long and hard. They’re exhausted. Even the students we used to teach throughout the continent were chronically narcoleptic nose-bleeders. So what’s a little shut-eye on a crowded train floor?

We soon got off the train at our stop. You hand was tight in mine, underpinning the sense of gratitude we felt for our life choices, fragile as they were. I now felt how sharply the echoes of my laughter contrasted against the dreary grey of a Tokyo train ride at the end of a “9-5” day.

Published by WritesofPassage

Welcome to my blog about travel and humanity, where the two join hands to send a message: that we all want to say the same thing. The purpose of this blog is twofold: to give a crazy mind a canvas, and to touch somebody's truth.

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