April. The entrance ceremony. I was swaying side to side on the bus on my way to school. I was zoning out as the population of the bus gradually increased.
Most of the people on the bus wore the same high school uniform.
By the time I realized, the bus was full to the point that anyone could get away with molestation
An elderly lady standing in front of me was on the verge of toppling over. But I guess it’s her fault for boarding a full bus.
Not that it matters to me who since I was able to grab a seat.
I might as well ignore the lady and enjoy the ride.
What a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. I guess I should just sleep and wait for the bus to reach its destination.
My sleep didn’t last for long.
“Aren’t you going to give your seat?”
My heart skipped a beat and sneaked a peek at the person who was talking.
Is she talking to me?
But she was talking to someone a couple of seats further in the front.
A well-built blond guy was sitting comfortably on a priority seat. A high schooler. Next to him was the elderly lady from earlier and besides her was an office lady.
“Hey you there, can’t you see this grandma having a tough time?”
The office lady clearly wanted the boy to give his seat to the elderly lady.
The office lady’s voice carried through the quiet bus and gathered attention from around the bus.
“What a crazy lady.”
I thought that the boy would ignore or get angry or maybe listen to the lady, but he all he did was laugh and reposition himself on the seat.
“Why should I have to give my place to a granny? I don’t have any reason.”
“You are in a priority seat. Don’t you know it’s common sense to give it to the elderly?”
“Nope, I don’t understand. Sure priority seats are priority seats, but there’s no law that mandates this. Give up my seat because I’m younger? Don’t make me laugh, what nonsense.”
He didn’t talk like a high schooler. He had his hair dyed blonde and was completely out of place.
“I am a young healthy person. Sure it’ll be easy for me to stand up. But, sitting requires less energy. I don’t plan on doing something non-profiting for no reason. Or are you going to pay me some money?”
“I… Is that how to speak to your elders!?”
“Elders? There’s no doubt that you and that old lady have lived longer than me. No doubt whatsoever. But, I only have an obligation to respect people who stand above me. Not to mention, you also have a problem. Don’t you think your attitude is out of line just because you’re older?”
“Wha… Aren’t you a high schooler!? Listen to what adults have to say!”
The grandma wanted the office lady to stop because she seemed to be taking it too seriously and kept gathering attention. She tried to calm the office lady with gestures, but the office lady did not want to end it by being humiliated by the high schooler.
“Well, it looks like the grandma has a better understanding than you. I guess there are still some reasonable people in Japan. I hope you enjoy the rest of your life.”
He made a smug smile, put on his earphones, and started to listen to music so loud you could hear it from the outside. The office lady vexingly gritted her teeth.
It must have been irritating to listen to someone younger push through an arrogant argument and also see his cocky attitude.
However, she had nothing to counter because nothing he said was wrong.
Other than a problem with ethics, there was no reason for the boy to give up his seat.
The office lady muttered an apology to the elderly lady while trying to fight back her tears.
That was the full story of the incident that transpired on the bus. I was honestly glad I wasn’t involved in any way. At that point, it wasn’t about giving the seat away to elders or not anymore.
The clamor ended with the boy defending his philosophy. Noone would object against it.
“Um… I think the lady is right.”
An unexpected savior appeared. She was standing by the office lady and also wore the same high school uniform. She was listening to the entire conversation and finally plucked up her courage to speak out.
“What’s this, a pretty little girl this time? I guess I’m in luck with girls today.”
“It looks like granny’s been having a tough time. Do you think you can give your seat to her? It might not be any of my business, but I think it would be a contribution to society.”
The boy snapped his fingers.
“Hmm, a contribution to society. That’s a good one. True giving my seat to an elder might be considered as a contribution to society. Unfortunately, I have no interest in contributing to society. My philosophy is to look after myself only. And another thing. You’re giving me a hard time for sitting in a priority seat in a crowded vehicle like this but is it okay to leave out all those other people sitting quietly in their seats? You’d think that someone would give their seat away regardless of whether the seat was priority or not if they cared about elders.”
The girl’s words were futile, and the boy continued his attitude until the very end. The elderly lady and the office lady kept their silence and bit back their frustration.
However, the girl did not falter to the boy.
“Hey everyone, could I have your attention, please? Could anyone give their seat to this granny? It doesn’t matter who, please.”
Just imagine how much you have to care, how much courage and determination you need to have to do this. It wasn’t an easy feat. People around might scowl at her with resent because of her action. But the girl boldly appealed to the people on the bus.
I wasn’t in a priority seat, but if I raised my hand and gave my seat to the old lady, I could easily end the situation peacefully; the elderly lady could finally sit down and relax.
But I, likewise everyone around me, decided not to do anything. Everyone probably had the same idea; although the boy’s attitude was annoying everyone agreed with what he said.
Senior citizens are undoubtedly the ones responsible for making the foundation of Japan today.
But from now on, our generation will be the valuable labor source who will build on that.
If you take into account the aging society, the importance of young laborers was even greater.
In this perspective, figuring out who was more significant to society was a no-brainer.
Again, this was the perfect argument only if you excluded ethical aspects.
I was slightly interested as to how everyone else was going to react. As I looked around, I noticed most people were in two categories: either pretending not to notice or having an inner-conflict trying to decide to give their seat or not.
But… the girl next to me was completely different.
She looked completely indifferent to what was happening around her.
I made brief eye contact with her as I stared at her irregular reaction. I felt something click; it was as if I could hear our opinions matching. Neither of us felt the necessity to give their seat.
“Uh… err. Here have my seat.”
A female worker stood up shortly after the girl’s appeal. She sat near the old lady and gave up her seat probably because she felt bad.
“Thank you very much!!”
The girl smiled brightly, bowed her head, and led the grandma to the newly freed seat.
The old lady spoke many words of gratitude as she lowered herself onto the seat.
I watched the scene from the side of my eyes then crossed my arms and closed my eyes.
Shortly afterward, the bus stopped, and the high schoolers started to get off.
I got off the bus last and faced a gate built from processed natural stone that was chained together.
All the girls and boys in uniforms who got off the bus passed the gate.
Tokyo Advance Education High School. A school created by the Japanese government to educate the young people who would support the future of Japan. This is where I’m going from today.
I paused and took a deep breath. Alright, let’s go!
Someone called to me from my side as I tried to take my first step.
It was the girl that was just sitting next to me.
“You were looking at me earlier, what did you want?”
Hmm, she noticed.
“Sorry. I was just curious. I just thought that maybe you didn’t have any intention to give your seat to the old lady from the very beginning, regardless of the reason.”
“Of course. I had no intent on giving my seat. What does that have to do with anything?”
“No, it’s just I thought the same thing. I had no intentions of giving my seat either. I preach the principle of leaving things as they are, so I don’t want to get involved in those kinds of stuff.”
“Principle of leaving things as they are? Do you mean lazy? Don’t think I’m the same as you. I just didn’t see any purpose in giving the seat to the old lady, that’s all.”
“Isn’t that worse than leaving things be?”
“I don’t know. I only act to my philosophy. I’m different from people like you who just want to avoid trouble. I hope I don’t have to deal with people like you anymore.”
Why did I have to have this unpleasant exchange of words?
The two of us let a loud, fake, exasperated sigh and started off in the same direction.