Saturday, May 10, 2008

Facelift and Train Ride in One

When the Tokaido Shinkansen took its maiden voyage in 1964, it was the world's first high speed train. It has only gotten faster with time and today it zips along at nearly 200 miles per hour. The thing handles turns like a steel roller coaster.

I did manage to keep from barfing, barely. And I'm pretty sure all my internal organs are now lined up nicely along my spine. Otherwise, great fun.

Apparently, employment with the Bullet Train is quite prestigious and sought-after. Certainly more so than, say, working for the New Jersey Transit. These elegant stewardesses served up coffee with a calm and eagerness you'd never see around here. It was as if they really and genuinely loved their jobs. I mean, LOVED their jobs. Extraordinary.

And--here's the best part--once they have pushed their coffee carts to the front of the train car and poured their last cup with that sweet sunshiny smile, they stand to face the car full of passengers, bow and exit.

Of course, nobody bows back. No, no that would be just too good. I don't think I would have recovered from witnessing such a spectacle of Japanese niceties. Fortunately, the passengers were all too absorbed in their papers, iPods and staring out the window at swirly blur that is the Japanese countryside from the Bullet Train.

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