Thursday, January 14, 2010

To follow the rules or not?

This is something the Japanese society as a whole needs to decide. For the most part, this is the most orderly, law abiding place I have ever been or heard of. That is, except when it comes to a few things, such as walking down the aisles at Costco or going up and down steps at the train station. I can point out these two exceptions with great experience, because go to Costco about once a month to fulfill my American food cravings and I ride the train frequently with my kids.
I was at Costco today, which prompted me to write about this. There are so many free samples there, it is incredible, when people see them, they stop their cart whereever they are, they don't look back to see if someone's behind them, they just stop and take their sweet little time eating. If they are shopping with a friend, they just walk side by side, nevermind the twice than normal size shopping cart at this store than any other place in Japan, they must think the wider aisles are allowing accomodation for the side by side Sunday stroll pace. It is so annoying because if I was in America, I'd be inclined to ram them with my cart, or ask them to move, but here in Japan, I feel compelled to be ultra polite and conform to japanese mannerisms (they're too nice to get mad at). I don't have road rage here, it's cart rage.

At the train station, there are actually arrows painted on the steps indicating the up or down direction. Here comes me, with my double stroller, usually with at least one kid in it and a bag hanging off the side, and two or three little ones following closely behind. Yes, I am walking on the side the arrows indicate to go up, and the barrage of people getting off the train comes in all directions, no one adhering to the arrows. I in the end either have to stop and wait, teetering stroller in hand, or risk getting pushed down the steps. This goes the same for sidewalks, you have no right or wrong side of the side walk and I find it annoying, especially in a city of over a million people.

Yes, you can tell this post was instigated by the cart rage I felt today at Costco. If I'm brave enough, next time, I'll bring my camera and take a picture of the jam up on aisle ten where they are giving out free samples of RAISINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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