Reacting to Signs

Have you ever been in an incident where all the signs that something was about to happen were there, but you didn’t respond to them? I had one of those incidents today. I’m going to say the signs that led up to the incident after I say the incident itself. And don’t worry, nothing major happened. It’s just one of those events that can serve to display a principle.

The object was to travel from Yotsuya station to Koenji station. This was to be accomplished going one direction without necessity of transferring. However, what ended up happening was the train that we were on switched directions (from west to east) after completing a stop. That stop occurred at Nakano station. We never got off of that train, and it turned out we were only one stop away from our destination when the switch occurred. It took us one more stop away and we had to switch to a train that would continue traveling further west to our destination.

There were many signs. The first one was a banner sign that read “To Nakano” when we first got onto the train at Yotsuya. Ultimately, that indicated the final stop that train was going to. The second sign was that when we stopped at one of the biggest and busiest stops in Tokyo (Shinjuku), many people alighted the train, but very few from that station got on. Had that train been going much farther past Nakano, only a few stops away, surely more people would have gotten on. As these signs come up, I am mentally taking note of them, but never fully realizing the meaning until the end.

The next few signs all came very close to each other. The next sign was a long stop at Nakano station. Like I mentioned earlier, this ended up being the final stop. I only took note of the long stop to think that another train was going to come by and then let people off to transfer to this train. However, I had noted that the only train line on this side of the platform was this same train line. Therefore, there could be no useful transfer from another train to this train. Hope that makes sense.

I saw a man in a uniform walking from the western direction towards the east. It turns out he was likely the driver of the train, and he was switching sides as to continue driving the train towards the eastern direction from then on. One of the last signs was two girls getting off and talking in quick Japanese about the situation, and pointing towards the western direction on the map. I also picked up the word Tsudanuma, which turned out to be the train’s next destination towards the east. Then the train switched directions. I and a few others noticed, while some people with me did not.

This whole situation could be a lesson in showing how important it is to pay attention. I’d like to think that there was something more going on. Again, the big thing is that I never fully grasped what was to occur. Yet, I had so many signs that indicated the near occurrence. Another thing to weigh into the equation is what would have happened had I reacted. What is interesting is that there was this tiny frame of time that I had thought of suggesting to everyone that we get off the train. The only reason was to transfer to a train that I knew would leave sooner than this train,¬†which had clearly stopped for a long period of time. It was more for being timely than anything else; not as a reaction to these signs. However, had we gotten off, we would have prevented the incident from happening.

Again, this is a very minor incident. I’m in no way complaining about the situation-we weren’t in a rush and I didn’t feel rushed or impatient. I am writing this simply to say that the signs are there. We are going to have many choices, and much time to think about things like this. Let us simply take a moment to reflect on the times in our lives where we ignored the signs and it turned out for the bad. Maybe some people can share some of these incidents in their lives in the comments. Thanks for reading!

1 comment

    • Sarah on Monday, June 30, 2008 at 10:29 PM

    Hi Josh!! I have not only had things like that happen, but I have had the same exact thing happen very near the same place — only in a different time and space continuum ; ).

    Hearing you mention all of the stops gives me nostalgia (not to mention I have just gotten over the flu ; ), but Tsudanuma was so close to me – I spent a lot of time in those places. I thought I was finished with Japan – I have a lot of lost friendships there, but you being there has made me want to go back and want to reconcile.

    It even occurred to me that there have been some complicated situations between myself and some of my friends from Japan and the most loving and Christian thing for me to do would be to openly forgive them and ask for their forgiveness as well. I may not have the chance in some cases, but when I do I will. At any rate, I will go back to Japan and I hope you get the most out of your experience while you are there!

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