Aficionados and practitioners of the gentle art of gamesmanship may be jubilant to note that per pro yours truly the art of survival in the busiest of public transport systems has officially been accepted recently and named “trainmanship” by the Greater Tokyo Old Rotters and Gentlemen Club as a subset of Japanmanship due to the increasingly huge, as yet unpublished, amount of research on the subject, quod erat faciendum. A feat worthy of celebration, I think you’ll agree.
In my most recent case a demure and possibly drunk old salaryman had decided to wage war on my elbow by, eventually, doing backwards head buts with such force the crack of bone on bone was audible through even my earphones. I felt no pain, of course, but was irritated enough to not make any more space for the belligerent lollygagger as all he had to do was take a single step forward, back to the space he had previously occupied, for my elbow to no longer be an obstacle. This, in turn, prompted the man to turn around to have a word with me.
After having sampled and tested all manner of offensive and defensive measures it would seem ignoring the perpetrator is by far the most effective, but only if you can communicate that you are, in fact, ignoring him. This requires a passive aggressive non-activity which can be hard to convey, but the Leicester Elbow forms a unique natural solution, which I had cause in this instance to test with astounding results.
In turning to me the perpetrator sought eye contact which I was unwilling to lend him, as it would invariably lead to a cul-de-sac of verbal abuse. Instead I continued to stare at my mobile phone and moved my elbow ever so slightly as to make it occupy the space in between our heads through which the conversation was to be conducted. Not deterred the drunk merely tilted his head sideways to peek past my elbow and to reinitiate possible eye contact. To answer this move, I merely shifted my elbow ever so slightly back and again successfully blocked him from my view, never once looking up. (see figure 2) The dance can theoretically be perpetrated ad infinitum but in this instance it was repeated four times before the man got the message and meekly turned to move to a different space, far removed from this aggressively unwilling victim.
The lesson learnt is that simply ignoring the wrongdoer will yield no reasonable results so actively ignoring him while communicating loudly you are doing so, as with the Sandwich Waltz, is proven to be effective.
As a side note, the tactic did eventually lead to the man changing his position to near where another passenger would give up his seat at the following stop, allowing for the aggressor to sit in comfort for the rest of the trip while yours truly remained standing. So maybe it was not a victory in comfort, if it was one in the moral sphere of commuter survival.