You know how sometimes you have a dream that feels very real, and other times you have a real-life experience that seems very much like a dream? I had one of the latter today, at least I’m about 90% sure it actually happened. Either way it was pretty odd.
I was teaching classes in the evening down in Ichihara, which means I have to ride the trains about an hour and a half from Shinjuku back towards Chiba, then down south from there. Luckily if I time it right I can catch an express train from Tokyo station, meaning I don’t have to change trains mid-way. The train is usually fairly crowded, but after about 20 minutes a lot of people usually get off, yielding me around a 45-minute nap after grabbing a newly-vacated seat.
I wake up after around a half-hour and notice there’s a bit of a commotion going on in the train car. We had just left Soga station and I couldn’t imagine what was causing the usually lifeless train passengers to scoot around in such a still-silent panic. I sit up a bit and notice to my left that 3 pigeons are walking around. Yes, inside the moving train. They weren’t causing any problems, just walking and making that pigeon noise. Coo, maybe? Nonetheless, tons of people were freaking out as the pigeons just strutted about the floor, minding their business. Now, Japanese people do a lot of things that make no sense to me, but this next part really confused me. Instead of just letting the pigeons walk around and waiting until the next stop (less than 10 minutes), this one genius Japanese guy decides it would be a good idea to hit the ground near the pigeons with his umbrella.
ID. I. OT.
So of course the pigeons go flying, trying to avoid being hit with an umbrella. They head towards the windows, which of course are closed and have people sitting in front of them. The birds hit the windows and land on people, then jump around again as people try to swat at them or shake them off. The situation has just become much much worse because Mr. Wizard thought his magic umbrella would cause the 3 pigeons to vanish in a puff of smoke. So the panic level continues to rise as now you have people all over the long train car getting up and running to either the corners or to the next car. The pigeons are getting more excited now, just trying to figure out how to get off this train while avoiding getting hit by Moron of the Month’s umbrella. Then 1 or 2 more idiots start using their umbrellas (the situation might not have been as bad if it weren’t raining earlier today) to “protect themselves” from the pigeons, creating a vicious cycle or retardedness. I stand up, still slightly asleep having woken up less than a minute ago, and see one of my former co-workers running towards me. I think this was when I started to think I was still in a dream, because what in the world was she doing on this train?*
She jumps into action like she’d been specially trained to deal with pigeons on a train car, opening up a nearby window then running to catch one of the pigeons. She does, checks to make sure there are no trees or electrical poles next to the tracks, and releases pigeon #1 back outside. I get the message and run to open up the other windows on the train, while every other person on the train either 1) sits there as if nothing was going on, 2) quietly runs to the next train car to escape or 3) stare at me or my co-worker out of confusion, as if we were playing catch with a midget covered in peanut butter. Not a single person helped, opened a window, or even said anything. Japanese people love to act like nothing is going on around them. I’m pretty sure that if Godzilla really did attack this country, the reaction of the general public would be to continue walking as if nothing was happening. Or maybe they would try throwing their umbrellas.
So once she got the other 2 pigeons cleared off the train with her bare hands, we closed the windows, wiped our hands, and had a brief chat as the train pulled off at my stop. Needless to say I was pretty impressed. I definitely wouldn’t have done that myself. So that was probably the most exciting 5 minutes I’ve ever had immediately upon waking up. I’m pretty sure this actually happened.
*She was going to Goi to work, obviously.