Thursday, July 6, 2017
Chronicle Headline, July 6, 2017
View on page BART hit again by teen robbers Agency defends change in its way of reporting crimes on the system By Michael Bodley Above is a headline in today's San Francisco Chronicle. And then follows the shocking story of teenage robbers swarming onto BART and grabbing passengers phones, laptops, etc. This is the second time in 2 1/2 months! This headline catapulted me back to my trip to Japan. Yes, I really was there, and I have photos and memories to prove it. We spent lots of time on Japanese railways, subways, buses, trains, cable cars, and even on a plane. On arrival we went by shuttle from Osaka to Kyoto. The driver of the shuttle bus, a young woman, wore a uniform replete with white gloves. The seat tops were covered in spotless lace white coverings. We stopped at a gas station/refreshment stop and I was floored by the toilet. A heated toilet seat, spotlessly clean, with buttons to program 'actions.' A button with music for 'privacy.' A button for what looked like a bidet spray, another for a rear spray. Just astounding. All the writing was in Japanese but there were universal symbols. I was a bit hard pressed to find the 'stop' and 'flush' buttons, but after turning of all the lights and setting of an alarm, I learned. The buses were often crowded, but no one pushed against anyone. On both the buses and trains noone spoke on cellphones, and it was generally very quiet. The only sounds being that of a recording of each stop. Passengers seemed very tired, but they kept their legs together, bags on their laps, and curled forward, into themselves, to sleep. No manspreading or seat hogging here. Passengers got off the buses from the front of the bus inserting their tickets into a machine, or showing their passes to the driver who bowed, 'arigato'd' and 'haied'each and every passenger. Our first foray to the subway station left me once again, thunderstruck at the cleanliness of the floors, walls, escalators, and public toilets. This was not like BART, indeed not. To add to everything, the trains came and left on the exact second that was posted. We were on a crowded loop train in Osaka at mid-morning. One of our group realised she had left her kindle on the train. Of course she was very upset. This same woman had shamefully sullied the floor of the subway station in Osaka before losing her kindle. She took a bite from a cream filled pastry and some cream fell on to the ground. I pointed out to her that she should get down on her hands and knees to clean it up, but for some reason she did not do this. I think her leaving the kindle was a punishment. I once left a kindle on a plane to India - needless to say, it was bye-bye kindle. I understood her being upset, but for some reason was certain she would see her kindle again. Later we went to a tourist information office in a little village on Mt. Koya. The helpful clerks took all her information. At that time, just four hours later, they had no word of the kindle. She was forlorn. Once again I assured her she would get it back. Most unfortunately I did not place at least $100 bet on my assurance. Two days later her kindle awaited her at our hotel in Tokyo.