Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Will Miss #384 - watching the engineers

I don't know what it's like to run a train in America, especially in a metropolis like New York in which there is a large and complex system servicing a wide area. I can say that standing behind the engineer and watching how he operates when you get on a Japan Railway train is a pretty fascinating experience. He is sitting in there alone, but follows a very rigid routine of gesturing and movement. At first, I didn't realize why he pointed so often with his pristinely clean white-gloved hand then I realized he does so in recognition of signal lights. Even though they could easily not go through this routine out of view of other employees, they all do this because it's what they are supposed to do (and I'm guessing this sort of interaction keeps them alert).

To me, the way in which this work is meticulously followed by people in formal uniforms is a reflection of some of the best Japanese culture has to offer in terms of following a carefully carried out work ethic and I will miss it.