Friday, June 23, 2006

White Gloves

A couple of weeks ago my friend Rev. Mugo commented about the way drivers and guards here wear white gloves, and also something about the fancy hand-work that they use.

In Japan anyone touching or operating machinery wears white gloves - and train and bus drivers always! Well, you wouldn't want to get perspiration and fingermarks on that nicely polished machine eh? And also you don't want any oil or grease on your hands. People are very conscious of cleanliness here.

Also on trains everything is done like a military drill. On the kaisoku into Tokyo yesterday I snuck this picture of the driver as we sped along the fast line to Ichikawa. Around every twenty seconds or so he'd point to the approaching signal and say aloud to himself "aspect green!" It's a safety procedure, it means that he's even less likely to miss a warning signal.

They take procedures like this extremely seriously here, no one would ever let it slip or think it unnecessary. Guards too, when they close the doors at stations have their own checklist to recite, pointing down the train to check that all the 'open door' lights are extinguished and on curves checking the platform camera.

I should have had a 'routine' myself yesterday. I arrived at Chiba with eight minutes to spare to catch this train and settled myself comfortably in the front coach. Departure time came, the warning bell for 'doors closing' sounded and ... the doors didn't close and the signal was still red! Then - the train in the next platform departed - I'd got on the one next door leaving six minutes later! So I'm starting my own hand signal routine now - point to the departure board and say "right train!"


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