on the train

Every morning, I have to take the train for a short while to go to my workplace. Door to door it’s about an hour, but the train ride is a short ten minutes or so.

Luckily, I’m currently on a break from work, but on the last day before the break started, I had an unlucky experience on the train.

I ride the same train every morning. 7:51 local bound for Akihabara. Usually, by the time I get on there are no empty seats and I end up standing in the corner. This day, though, was different. Because it was the last working day before Golden Week (a consecutive ten days off this year), I guess a bunch of people took one extra day to avoid insane traffic while going on their trips. I spotted an empty seat.

I was extremely excited. I quickly sat down and continued the message I was typing out on my phone to my friend. I wasn’t seated for a full minute before the man next to me leans in too close and breathes an “Excuse me,” into my ear (in English).

Surprised, I look up and he goes into a self introduction in English, telling me about how he and hist wife and their baby just moved to my city last year. He asked me how I like it and if I worked there. I was a little confused because I was taking the train OUT of my city on a business day at 7:51 AM… I think it was pretty clear I didn’t work there. So he asked how long I lived there and where I DO work.

I’m pretty used to this, as odd as it is. I’m constantly approached by men trying to get to know the foreigner, as sucky as it is. I refuse to give specifics, so when he asked where I worked, I told him I was a teacher (which is true). Sometimes I pretend I don’t speak English, but I was typing on my phone in English and he clearly saw it.

He pressed, asking if I was an ALT. I told him no, I’m a homeroom teacher (also true). He asked where but I don’t tell strangers. “I’m not comfortable telling a stranger where I work,” is my default reply.

I was polite, as I always am. It’s how I was raised. Even though I REALLY don’t want to talk to these people, I rarely say something rude unless I’m super pushed to it.

Anyway, he kept trying to talk about how he is trying to study English more to pass the Eiken test, an English certification test. It’s easier to get better jobs or get better pay when you have a good score. My husband took a similar test, the TOEIC, and he got an extra 50,000 yen when he joined his company because of his high score.

The man went on to talk about how he wants to find someone to help him study for the test and I told him good luck and that there are many foreigners living in our city (kind of subtly hinting that I wasn’t interested). He pushed and asked me if I work late. I told him yes and that I generally don’t even get off of work until around six, sometimes later. He continued pushing, asking if I’m busy on weekends.

I work hard all week teaching kids, so I don’t exactly want to waste my free time teaching an adult on my days off, especially for no charge. I gave him my best “sorry” face and told him I am usually busy on weekends.

I thought he would give up. I was only half listening to him (in an obvious fashion) and was mostly looking at and typing on my phone. My answers for all his questions were very short, usually one word. He didn’t stop, though, and asked if I was married. I said yes without looking up. He asked if my husband was Japanese. I grunted another yes. He asked if I spoke Japanese and I grunted yet another yes.

He asked, “Oh, so maybe your husband would get jealous if you talk a lot with another man?”

I took this as an out and yes, “Yes, I think he might, so it probably isn’t a good idea.”

Truthfully, my husband trusts me and lets me be friends with whoever I want. And I trust him. So while this wasn’t entirely true, I just wanted this guy to leave me alone.

He let out a breath and was quiet for a moment. I thought that I was in the clear, but he took out his phone and asked me for my contact information!

Annoyed, I kind of stared at him for a moment, but he was being kind of relentless. I take this train every day so I’m scared that I’m bound to run into him again. I did give him my LINE ID, but I didn’t add him after he sent me a message. Luckily, my stop came soon and I jumped off, but I’m worried about seeing him after my break is over. Once I go back, if he does try to talk to him again, I think I will just tell him that I’m sorry but I’m not interested in teaching him English. I think bluntness is the best option this time around, as rude as it may come off.

He may be a sweet guy with completely pure intentions, but I don’t even have enough time for the friends I already have, so I’m not exactly looking for more, as horrible as that sounds.

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