I’ve had an idea for a long time that there ought to be a social worker, a little table, and two chairs on every train platform in the Tokyo area. I’d visit, probably just to talk out why I was missing this one train connection about three days a week and to sit down, but I would be especially interested to visit if he or she provided hot or cold tea and he/or she was paid for by the city and/or just worked for one coin or tips.
The idea struck me as a good one when I was living at the end of a line for a while and routinely saw people woken up and ushered off the last train of the evening at a place that was probably not their stop. Something had gone quite wrong. And then there they were alone with some time to think.
You’d really like to be able to point them toward a social worker at a time like that. And then there are the people who attract your attention in a crowd of hundreds because they look like they need help. But there they are just commuting alone. Once I saw a woman get off the train at night in front of me wearing Reebok toning shoes and carrying two heavy department store bags. She was so drunk or so something at the end of the line that she kept falling backwards on the steps. I spotted her a couple times when she fell back, but, now, if there had been a social worker on the platform, I could have guided her in the direction of the little card table near the vending machines, told the social worker I was now making the connection almost four days a week, thank you, and hoped for the best. Maybe they could have talked about getting on the path toward giving up alcohol or rebok toning shoes or overshopping, but they would definitely touch on the idea of giving up the potentially lethal combination of all three.
Busy parents on their way home from work in the midst of marietal, financial, or whatever problems could have a quick cry at the card table before going home to make dinner and hear about the trouble their kids are in at school. People who find themselves pushing a blind person or someone with a crutch on a train platform (saw it every morning for a while from 7:13-7:15 in Shinagawa station) might take a moment to sit down and talk to the social worker about what’s going on at work and at home. I do think it should be free. Are you sighing heavily or muttering under your breath on a train full of people? Was that you? If you don’t know how to talk about it, maybe the social worker will just play a game of cards with you and write you an exceuse for being late to work.
Are your feet not entirely in your shoes, are you walking around on top of the back s of your shoes? Are you a heavy man wearing a lady’s winter fuzzy mid drift warmer in the spring with a tucked in pink half shirt? Wanna talk about it?
I was congratulating myself on how well this imaginary public health program was going to go when it hit me that there are so many problems that could be adressed with a daily check in not just on the platform, but on the actual train. If your commute is 50 minutes, why not use that time to improve your life instead of using it to sulk and play candy crush or whatever the hell that game is?
Maybe car one could be reserved and there would be an announcement on the whole train. It’s dermatology monday. Weight Watcher’s Tuesday. AA Wednesday. Financial planning Thursday. And if you want to get that mole checked out or weigh in, or keep working it because it works, or admit how much money you just spent at the convenience store on things you didn’t need, you would just make your way down to car one. Damn it, I think I’ve gained this week, but here I go. Like that.
And of course car one would just be a party car on Fridays. Filled with dubstep and darker lighting. Politicians/Bureaucrats in Japan are seriously concerned about the birth rate and how long urban professionals are putting off becoming parents: That’s why the party car will get government support. It would get the people’s support because so many people just want to go home after work on Fridays, but it’s so depressing not doing anything to celebrate Friday. Unce. Unce. The party car’s just going to be fun. But no up-skirting. They will probably have to put posters up about not up-skirting (the verb meaning to take a photo up a girl’s skirt for readers living in countries where this is not a commonly referred to problem.) Then sleepy mondays, with just mats on the train floor so people could lie down, ab work out Tuesdays (same set up but with spray bottles and towels so passengers could wipe things down before their stop).
There’s a lot of potential to improve the quality of a lot of peoples’s lives here because millions of people are dependent on the train every day. Once my program takes off I’ll be flattered to hear husbands,wives, and aquaintences turn to each other and say, “It’s not normal to be itching that much. I think this monday is dermatology monday; It’s free on car one, you might as well get it checked out.”