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Smelly Train Guy

June 1st, 2012

In the past two weeks, I’ve had the same uncomfortable experience four times: some guy walks through the train car I am in. Immediately in his wake, he leave a foul, pungent odor. Not sulfurous, if that’s what you were thinking. More like, kind of a “I haven’t bathed in six months” aroma. It takes a full minute for the smell to dissipate.

This being Japan, nobody in the crowded car so much as turns their head. But if you have become even a bit attuned to people’s expressions here, you can see they feel the same way I do: disgusted by the smell, and grateful that the guy walked through and out to the next car instead of settling in among us here. I feel badly for the people he does camp out next to, though.

I don’t even know if it’s the same guy, but I would not be surprised.

Such things are not rare on Japanese trains, but they are not common, either. I do recall a passenger who was much worse once. This was back on the Chuo Line, maybe in the late 80’s (possibly the early 90’s). A short, stocky guy, messily dressed. The car was not packed, but all the seats were taken. This fellow came to a bench at the end of the car, where three people can sit. Nobody was standing in front of the bench, and the three occupants were either women or slight men.

He stood in front of one of the three people sitting there, and after a few seconds, started hitting the seated passenger’s knees with his knees. More or less he was saying, “I want to sit here, pal, so get out!” After a few seconds, the accosted passenger got up and fled to another part of the car.

But the brazen ass didn’t sit down. He moved on to the next passenger, and did the same thing. After that person left, he got to the last passenger and went through the exact same act as before.

After he cleared the bench that way, he laid down and went to sleep.

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