Friday, March 20, 2015

Riding the Subway on "Airplane Mode"

In America, when you are on an airplane, silence is golden. 
Everyone is trapped together and the best way for everyone to get through the trip with their sanity intact is for everyone to keep themselves busy whilst not negatively impacting a fellow passengers trip.  It's a sort of tacit understanding with one another that we are all in this cramped, uncomfortable situation with one another and we won't be doing anything to make it worse on eachother.  As a side note, United Airlines won't be doing anything to make it better either, you can ply me with 3 meals in 12 hours and give me access to a hundred movies I always wished I'd seen all you want but until you stop charging for alcohol on flights you're(in my humble, cranky opinion) part of the problem, not the Sojulution, but I digress.  This trend of selfless camaraderie, as far as I have seen in America, only exists in air travel.  In trains, you have to go to the "quiet car" if you want to avoid hearing other people talk.  On the public transports like the city bus, forget about it, on the subway, even worse, I mean hell, we even have guys that come into the subway and start playing on the drums for money, as if their skill hitting a bucket with a drumstick is what entices passengers to shower them with dinero, when really its the enticing prospect of the bucket man leaving to another car.  Don't even get me started on the time consuming life drain that is being stuck on a platform for 30 minutes due to metro inefficiency.    These are all things I have dealt with with a near selfless aplomb, thinking the whole time that it was just part of the human condition and to hate dealing with the noise, hubbub, and forced interaction with strangers and street performers would put me into the category generally referred to as "pompous asshole", and then I saw the heavenly oasis of silence, organization, respect, and efficiency that is the Korean subway system, and now I am all sorts of jealous and infuriated. 

In Korea, we mostly used the subway to get where we wanted if it was too far of a walk, although we did venture onto the city bus once.  What I call the condition of Korean people on the subways and city bus is "airplane mode"; that same mutual respect and 'were in this together' attitude that one carries oneself with on an airplane in the states is present on all subways.  Silence is golden, even when the subway car is packed with what seems like a million people all pushed up against one another, every person has a calm look of patience, usually doing something quietly on their phone(although definitely not talking on it! that would be rude!).  When the subway stops, people are waiting to exit through the door and the people on the platform waiting to get on are situated on either side of the door waiting for others to exit before themselves entering, it's a truly beautifully efficient thing to see some sort of system to it all when one considers the disorganized frenzy of public transportation in the states.  Did I mention that the trains are frequent? On Time? Cheap? Clean?!!?!? AND they play the most annoyingly catchy tune to let you know the train you await is about to arrive, and another one when you are on a train about to stop, it says in 3 different languages what stop you are at.  What a country!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.