Trains, Phones, and Social Experiments

Riding on the train tonight felt like a sort of social experiment.

In all the trains in Japan, there are signs, and even announcements, informing everyone not only to put their phones on silent mode, but to refrain from talking on the phones.  Therefore, even though almost every single person on the train is using his or her phone, people are usually using headphones, and the train is always rather quiet.  Tonight, therefore, when I heard a noise that was clearly coming from a phone, I looked up immediately.

The girl standing near me seems to be playing a video on her phone.  I wondered what the deal was, seeing as how nobody ever did such a thing, letting the sound play openly from the phone.  After a quick visual evaluation, I realized that although I knew her phone was playing the video on loudspeaker, she likely had no idea.  I watched as she turned up the volume to full blast, even, and had to refrain from laughing.  People around the train car kept looking up from their own phones, clearly wondering what on earth was going on.  (I wonder if they thought I was the one doing it at first, seeing as I was before and are on the train, and then they were surprised that it was a Japanese girl.)  Now I knew that this was kind of a huge sort of social faux pas, but what I really was excited to discover was whether anyone would actually do anything to correct this girl’s utterly unfathomable and inappropriate behavior (as it seems to be for them).

This girl, you see, was wearing headphones.  They just simply were not plugged into her phone.  After the sort of music video ended, I kept an eye on the grill and her phone screen – she was scrolling through some sort of news feed on what looked like a Japanese social media site.  I kept waiting for another video, to test my theory that she had no idea that her headphones were unplugged, and that it wasn’t intentional that she play just the one thing out loud, not caring at all what other people thought.

After a few minutes, I got my chance – a video started blaring from her phone again.  Oddly enough, it was actually the exact same video as before.  So, I’m not so sure what was up with that, but whatever… Perhaps 20 seconds into the video, as I was watching in an attempt to figure out what the video was, the guy sitting facing her right in front of her, who happened to be wearing his own headphones, quickly but casually waved his hand in her frame of view, and then quickly but gently grabbed and handed her the unplugged end of her headphones, which had apparently been just hanging down in front of her the whole time.  In a sort of fluttery panic, the girl took her headphone cord from the guy, attempted multiple times to pause her video while turning down the volume, – she did eventually succeed – and then plugged in her headphones cord to her phone.  I had a huge smile on my face for not the first time with the incident, and I found it incredibly difficult not to burst into laughter right then and there on the newly silent train.  😛
Post-a-day 2017


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