27 October 2012 ~ 49 Comments

An Asshole on a Bus

As soon as the bus door folded open I could hear him!

“WOW! Looky here!” he shouted as I stepped on to the “no-step” bus. He was seated in the elevated front passenger seat, looking down at me. “A goddamn foreigner! And black, too! How goes it, brother? Haha! What the hell are you doing on a bus in Japan?”

I immediately labeled him a crazy fuck or a drunk Yakuza (the only ones in my eight-year tenure bold enough to speak to me that way), and promptly ignored him.

The bus driver’s eyes met mine as I slapped the sensor with my PASMO card. He looked like he wanted to apologize for the man hollering in my ear. I ignored him, too.

As I passed the nutcase chucks me way too familiarly on the shoulder and said something with a lot of rolling R’s that I couldn’t catch. His Japanese sounded like that old-man Tokyo-Ben that only old Japanese men fully get. Then, he laughed contemptuously, which riled me.

That Fucker touched me…

I kept it moving, though. I was well within my rights to stop and give him an RTA Uppercut, according to Loco’s law. And I wanted to, badly, but with my luck I’d probably get Youtube’d, arrested and deported, and I just knew he wasn’t worth it.

I walked to about the middle of the bus and squeezed my wide frame into a seat, the driver waiting patiently til I was seated before pulling off.

I could see now that the shouting man was middle aged for Japanese — maybe 65 or so — and if I had clocked him they wouldn’t have deported me…at least not until I had rotted under a Japanese jail first. I could still feel where he’d trespassed on my personal space, though. It ached with the violation.

I turned to my side and caught a glimpse of the remnants of the man sitting across the aisle from me giving me the J-eye before turning away. Some of the other passengers, as well, though their eyes now stared blankly unfixed into the airspace in my vicinity.

At the next stop, through the window, I watched as 5 people who were queued to board the bus began to do so. As the door opened, the jerk in the front seat got a phone call.


The first boarding passengers caught the brunt of “BULLSHIT!” full blast right upside their noggins. But they, too, promptly ignored the man. Didn’t even look at him. I realized in a flash how Japanese-like my reaction to him had been. Even two years ago I would have at least glanced. I mean, you’d think he was a regular occurrence, a daily annoyance. But, I’d been riding this bus in two-week intervals every morning since March, so I knew he wasn’t.

Though he continued this conversation at maximum volume as they boarded the bus, I still drew more attention than he. It was like they were trying to figure out how I was somehow the cause for the disruption of this generally peaceful commute. At least that was my read. I really don’t think very highly of Japanese thinking patterns so I tend to assess them derogatorily based on their general behavior.

Sometimes there isn’t much more to go on than that.

A few minutes of loud obscenity-strewn Japanese passed before the bus driver apparently had had enough. Screaming in the ear, speaking insultingly and assaulting foreigners is one thing but embarrassing the race and disrupting the Wa of Japanese passengers was quite another!

“I beg your pardon, Sir. Would it be too much trouble for you to refrain from talking on the phone on the bus? After all it is against…”


I let slip some laughter. He’d caught me off guard. I’d heard my kids at work use some of the words he was throwing at the person he was speaking to on the phone and now at the bus driver, but I’d rarely hear adults using them. A couple of the passengers who’d boarded glimpsed my mirth and gave me dirty looks. I shrugged and smiled at them. Don’t blame me…he’s the asshole!

“Please sir, refrain from using such language or I’ll have to…”


“If you would, please do me a favor and end your phone conversation now,and stop disturbing the passengers,” the driver said calmly.

From the elevated front seat, the asshole leaned over the railing and jabbed his finger at the driver.


The door sprung closed and the bus pulled off. The asshole continued his phone conversation as the driver fumed.

At the next stop, more passengers boarded. When the asshole let out a sudden outburst, one of the passengers liked to jump over the cash box and into the driver’s lap. The asshole laughed and I let it be known with a hardly repressed guffaw that I found it funny, as well.

Again some of the seated passengers gave me a look when they heard the laughter (I realized then) I probably could have but refused to withhold.

Why the hell was I laughing? It was funny, sure, but I knew my laughter was inappropriate, and that none of my fellow passengers would find humor in the situation.

“PLEASE sir!” the driver said, looking pushed to the limits of his patience. “How many times must I tell you? You must obey the rules or exit the bus.”

The asshole wasn’t even listening…he was enjoying his conversation with his friend on the phone.


“HOLD A SEC,” he said into the phone, then turned on the driver. “Oh,you’re a tough guy, ne. You’re trying to make me look bad? You fucking prick! You think it’s your job to embarrass me?”

He jerked his head around and scanned the interior of the bus, and gave all the passengers threatening looks…at least by Japanese standards. I thought he looked goofy and contemplated taking a picture of him. Of course, none of the passengers met his eyes…except me.

Our eyes locked for a long second. When he saw that I wasn’t about to unlock mine and turn away first, he went ahead and turned back to the driver.

“I’ll call you later,” he said into the phone while staring at the side of the driver’s masked face as he put his phone away.

“Sumimasen…” the driver said curtly, closed the door and drove off.


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49 Responses to “An Asshole on a Bus”

  1. Michael Gillan Peckitt 27 October 2012 at 12:49 am Permalink

    Hi Loco,

    Just wanted to say that sounds like a terrible experience – what a jerk. Sorry this happened.


    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:00 pm Permalink

      Thanks Michael…just another day in the ‘Hama (-;

  2. ジョシュ 27 October 2012 at 12:58 am Permalink

    I always wonder why people look at me when others are being unruly in public, too. They usually give me that glare of “This is your fault,” but I do get the occasional “Please help us solve this problem” look. It’s really strange.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:02 pm Permalink

      I’ve never gotten the second look. Generally it’s the first or something I can’t even begin to get a read on. It’s somewhere between constipation and comatose (-: thx for the shout!

  3. Arthur 27 October 2012 at 1:57 am Permalink

    Great story, Loco. For some reason I never got around to buying your book, but you keep producing stories that touch me somehow. So I finally clicked on the “Buy with 1 Click” button at Amazon. I should have done that a long time ago of course, but I’m lazy. Anyway… I look forward to reading it. Thanks!

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:04 pm Permalink

      Much obliged Arthur hope you enjoy it and please review it if you get a chance. Would love to hear your thoughts (-:

  4. Caoimhe 27 October 2012 at 4:01 am Permalink

    Oh lord. It’s strange isn’t it – no matter how awful a Japanese person is being in the immediate vicinity, the “dirty foreigner” will always get the stares and the evil looks. Oops, I sound a little bitter…

    I don’t think I’ve been intimidated by Japanese men (which your guy was attempting, perhaps), but as a girl… oh my god, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

    What was his Japanese like? I can’t imagine what scummy Kanto Japanese sounds like! Then again, I speak like an Osakan gutter-rat.

    ALSO THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Why oh why do Japanese salarymen think it’s alright to – and utterly without a shred of self-consciousness, or any attempt to hide it – pick their noses on the underground, stare at their catch on the end of a finger, and then EAT IT?!

    This has happened far, far too many times for it to just have been the odd weirdo; I basically expect it now if I’m ever on a train during commuting hours. It’s really not a nice thing to have to see.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:09 pm Permalink

      I’ve seen the picking but never the eating Ewwwwww! But I’ve seen in NY as well. Back home I think it’s an age thing. Once you get to a certain age it’s like you don’t give a damn what people think…nose itch? Pick it. Itch gone. About that much thought appears to go into it. I wonder if I’ll ever get there…
      His Japanese was that stuff you here if you go to a park where so old timers are playing ground golf and chatting it up between shots. Lots of rolling Rs and vowels dragged to their deaths lol nan darrrrrrooooooooooo lol Honma ni (-:
      Thanks for the shout

      • Caoimhe 28 October 2012 at 12:06 am Permalink

        Oh, so it’s not just a Japanese thing then, huh?
        Honestly, I’d never seen people digging for treasure until I came to Osaka – it was quite a shock!

        If you ever find yourself in a place where you think, “Oh shit, I really need to pick my nose in front of all these people!” I’ll..uh, I don’t know what I’ll do, actually.

        Fun thing today – A guy videoed me out of the window of his car today. My husband saw, went up and gave him a smack on the head. It was lovely.

  5. Andrew in Saitama 27 October 2012 at 6:12 am Permalink

    Yep, I hate that attitude of “We’ll hammer the guy that LOOKS different. If he’s ‘one of us’, he gets a free pass to act as obnoxious as he wants.”
    And notice how the ones who demand that we “follow Japanese rules or leave” are the ones most likely to break the rules themselves?

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:13 pm Permalink

      Amen. Actually I don’t pay much attention to that. I’m not much of a rule follower my damn self…so I’d be the last person to throw stones at rule breakers from my glass house. Lol that is, As long as they don’t fuck with me or mine, as this one did. Glad I kept my wits about me. Thanks for the shout.

  6. Orchid64 27 October 2012 at 7:24 am Permalink

    There are many reasons why this is fascinating. As for why the passengers might have been paying attention to you even when it was a Japanese person who was disruptive, there are several possibilities. They might look to you as a person who is responsible for the situation, as if your presence incites bad behavior. They might also see you as someone with power who could control the situation if you chose to do so. Since you are viewed as intimidating by virtue of your foreignness, if you challenged the jerk, he may settle down (in theory). I’m not sure, but I think they draw a clear line between the two “disruptive” parties even when all you are doing is standing there being foreign. Finally, and most likely, they may simply be curious to see if you will behave in this unique situation in a particular fashion. They may watch you to see if you do what they expect you to do based on their preconceived notions of what foreigners do when faced with an aggressive stranger.

    The situation was very unpleasant, but the dynamic is pretty revealing of a certain psychology in a public group situation.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:23 pm Permalink

      It was fascinating…I think that was part of the reason I laughed. The irony.
      Actually I thought of three reasons why all eyes were on me, in hind sight.
      1- their were two exceptions on that bus to the rule of thumb: me and ojii San. So, like sesame street, they sung in unison “two of these things do not belong here” lol
      2- the gawkers think of rude behavior as contagious. And, as a gaijin, naturally I was a carrier. Lol, or…
      3- maybe he was generally a little noisy but endurable but a gaijin in his midst irritated/provoked/instigated him to new heights.
      After, in regards to 3, I have noticed my presence often brings something “aggressive” out of people. The guy who responds to the threat he perceives me as being by launching himself between his girlfriend and I to demonstrate to his darling that he was willing to put himself in jeopardy and fend off even dangerous ass black gaijin to keep her safe. I’ve actually seen girls swoon over that offensive bit of foolishness. I shit you not!
      As always, Orchid, thanks so much for the shout!

  7. Chris 27 October 2012 at 9:49 am Permalink

    First I applaud you in the fact that you didnt serve him up a well deserved RTA uppercut. You are not alone however, I fully understand what you were feeling at that moment. While I’ve been on the end of a lot of rude behavior one has yet to actually put their hands on me, that will be my real test I think but this story will come to mind and I hopefully will remain as calm as you did.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:41 pm Permalink

      I think I had an advantage because it was very similar to the thinking that has kept me out of danger most of my life: a healthy fear of being in a cage…particularly one without due process and with a Japanese holding the key. Nah, he can have his shoulder chuck and chuckles at my expense. I get no satisfaction from excercising restraint once someone has crossed my personal line. Of course living in japan I’ve had to extend that line a lot further away from me than I ever imagined I would, to the point where it actually allows for physical touching and other obscenities that would be symptomatic of, as Charlie Murphy so hilariously put it, an habitual line stepper. Here in japan we have a society replete with Oblivious Line Steppers © Copyright 2013
      If you’re gonna stay here gotta prepare for your lined to be stepped over…by some innocent fuck you’d probably feel guilty clocking.
      Thanks for the shout as always yo!

      • Chris 27 October 2012 at 11:23 pm Permalink

        Oh man I hear ya. The one thing I’ve learned in all my years here is finally how to control my temper. Things that would have sent me boiling over years ago now I am able to look and walk away from. Even so it doesn’t sometimes stop that adrenaline that runs up your back and make you stiffen up so much it hurts, then leave you shaking afterwards…but still we walk away to avoid the in justice and loss of everything over a few heated seconds.

  8. kathryn 27 October 2012 at 10:03 am Permalink

    I’d put money on them looking at you because they wanted you to challenge the guy. Because Westerners are so *lucky*, they can stand up for themselves but that’s not the Japanese way.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:46 pm Permalink

      I dont like that idea. I mean, youre suggesting they wanted me, an oversized black gaijin, to go clock a senior citizen because he was noisy and rude.??? Hmmm….I guess anything is possible. thanks for the shout!

      • kathryn 28 October 2012 at 6:52 am Permalink

        Maybe not clock him but definitely stand up to him.

        Part of me though is thinking it’s awesome that this behaviour is so out of the norm. On the buses here in Australia, that guy would be every personon the bus. Including the bus driver half the time.

  9. Vivian Morelli 27 October 2012 at 11:30 am Permalink

    What a cunt!!! Buses in the Yokohama area are the most uncomfortable place- filled with people over 90, too. Which doesn’t bother me, but that guy…. wow. Sorry to hear you had to go through that. Cheers for dealing with it the way you did.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:49 pm Permalink

      Language, language Vivian lol
      Yeah I’m not keen on buses either. They smell foul and theyre so compact I’m banging head and knees constantly. Thanks for the shout love! Hope you’re enjoying the book (-;

  10. zoomingjapan 27 October 2012 at 11:57 am Permalink

    I agree that he must have been a fucker or a yakuza.
    I’ve had people like that, too, but on trains.
    And because they scare the hell out of me, I usually change seats.

    It must be so annoying to have a passenger like that boarding together with you.
    At least you could find it amusing! 🙂

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 7:51 pm Permalink

      Well he didn’t scare me, except for the fear that I might do something stupid and get deported. I didn’t see any visible tats and he had all his digits lol Just his audaciousness gave me pause, you know. Anyway, thanks for the shout yo

  11. Rude Boy Abroad 27 October 2012 at 6:18 pm Permalink

    At least you were able to use your Gaijin Powers for the forces of good.

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 6:59 pm Permalink

      LOL! Locohama, making commuting safe for foreigners
      Thanks for the shout yo

  12. Paul 27 October 2012 at 8:13 pm Permalink

    Yo Loco mate,
    Never ever let the bastards grind you down man. Your book’s great!

    • Locohama 27 October 2012 at 8:15 pm Permalink

      Thank you sir! I’ll do my best!
      Please drop a review on amazon/goodreads. Would love to hear your thoughts!

  13. L. Taz Hicks 27 October 2012 at 8:16 pm Permalink

    Loco hit him with the black mother’s “you better act right or else!” look. Well done sir! The moment he touched me, he would have found himself in possession of three shoes. Two on his feet and one in his ass! Overkill? Maybe but, some folks only learn by physical lessons.
    L. Taz Hicks

    • Locohama 28 October 2012 at 8:10 am Permalink

      What a lovely thought, dishing out what a lot of people desperately need here, but alas I love my freedom more. Always have. And I ain’t got no wins in these parts legally…debito teaches us!
      People do say I have my mother’s eyes. Maybe that’s what they meant (-;
      Thanks for the shout bruh

  14. Mawb 27 October 2012 at 10:12 pm Permalink

    Oh gosh. The only public transport disturbance I encountered on my vacation in Japan was a dude snoring so loud as to be practically deafening in a shinkansen green car (which I got upgraded to due to lack of seats in the regular area). It didn’t really bother me as I had my iPod on, but it was funny as hell watching people try to ignore it – especially his (awake) wife. I think he was Japanese – I couldn’t really get a good look at him from where I was sitting.

    The only person who looked at me in that situation though, was the Japanese woman almost directly across the aisle from me. We locked eyes a couple of times and shared that long suffering but amused “holy shit I want to laugh but I daren’t” thing.

    Luckily for me this is a happier memory than yours.

    • Locohama 28 October 2012 at 8:16 am Permalink

      The longer you stay here the more likely it is youll see what’s under Japan’s hood. When nothing seems to be going on, you suddenly see there is a lot going on, and you pray for a return to blissful ignorance. Or you manufacture it. Thanks for the anecdote…funny! I’m sure I’m that snoring guy sometimes.

      • Mawb 29 October 2012 at 1:53 am Permalink

        Oh I don’t doubt it. I observed some interesting interactions while I was travelling, and I’m not oblivious to deliberate aversion/stares directed at me personally (as an oftimes solo female traveller, I quickly learned to be aware of as much as possible in my vicinity for basic safety reasons). But I think it’s like anywhere – the longer you stay in a place, the faster it starts to tarnish. There’s a lot to be said for a lifestyle that involves constant moves of location – everything is always shiny and new.

        • Locohama 29 October 2012 at 3:26 pm Permalink

          Clever clever girl you are…wish I had kept it moving, too, sometimes. But, at heart, I’m a home body and Japan, for the time being, is my “no place like home”! (-; Thanks for the shout

  15. Jay Dee 27 October 2012 at 11:20 pm Permalink

    I’ve never seen that kind of thing on the bus. I seem to be invisible to others. However, there was this one time when a middle-aged man was taking up 3 seats on a very crowded train after he’d gone hiking. My wife was pregnant and quite big at the time, and she wanted to sit down. One man who was sitting near where we were standing kept looking at me, as I was talking to my wife about how rude that guy was. I think he was waiting to see if I’d go up to him and say anything. My wife asked me not to do anything.

    • Locohama 28 October 2012 at 8:19 am Permalink

      I’d kill for invisibility here.
      Three seats??? You have great patience!
      Thanks yo

  16. Jonathon 27 October 2012 at 11:57 pm Permalink

    It is strange to imagine this kind of behaviour from a Japanese senior. Although I haven’t spent much time in Japan so I guess I just haven’t encountered it. In fact the only issue I encountered were some young brats in a nightclub in Kyoto, trying to start because I am Australian, dressed in their wannabe gangster clothes bahaha. Fortunately I had a Japanese friend with me who handled the situation. By mocking them.

    In regards to the behaviour of the man, it is amazing that a Japanese person could act in such a way. I mean I know foreigners aren’t exactly subtle when they are on transport. I was with some friends and we were probably louder than we should have been, and we were just talking, and once my gf had to remind me about using my phone because I answered a call as a natural reaction. That was made worse for her as she is Japanese, she seemed quite embarrassed by it. But after this story… I feel somewhat tame in comparison

    Sufficed to say though, the biggest issues I have ever had with people in Japan are foreigners. Guess will have to see if I strike it lucky next time HAHA.

    • Locohama 28 October 2012 at 8:23 am Permalink

      Strange? Ok…maybe strange on a bus, but not strange in izakaya, street, etc.
      Yeah you need to spend more time here. Like humans everywhere, get a little liquor in thm and the lips loosen lol
      And if foreigners are your biggest prob consider yourself lucky
      Thanks for the shout!

  17. Jon (@Toshogu) 28 October 2012 at 1:46 am Permalink

    Wow, I have been riding Los Angeles subways & bus everyday to work for 12 years and I’ve never seen an ass hole that bad.

    • Locohama 28 October 2012 at 8:26 am Permalink

      He’s my first on the bus in eight years! Which made him blog worthy (-:
      Thanks for the shout and the tweet yo

  18. Guin 28 October 2012 at 3:44 am Permalink

    Man, that sounds…. fucked. Your reaction was kinda fucked up too. ( and i mean the chuckle you gave ).

    I don’t know what to think about this really. All the time im reading i am thinking ” When is loco gonna do somthing? “.

    That bus driver deserves a medal. or Saint hood . lol.

    • Locohama 28 October 2012 at 8:33 am Permalink

      I had to laugh to keep from doing something worse, you know?
      Do something? I’m not a comic strip yo. You must be confusing me with Luke Cage or the new Nick Fury. This is my life. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes… it rains. Think about that… (for you Bull Durham fans out there) lol
      Thanks fo the shout

  19. Bill 28 October 2012 at 11:14 pm Permalink

    That would be about an average experience for a ride on the BART, especially if you’re passing through Oakland.

    • Locohama 29 October 2012 at 3:30 pm Permalink

      Yeah. my sis lives out there in BARTville. Oakland? Ah, I got you. Yeah those black folk sure know how to ruin a communte don’t they… Thanks for the shout Bill!

  20. Cali_Breeze 30 October 2012 at 12:39 am Permalink

    I thought I was the only one the noticed the Japanese thought process always try to rationalize how a foreigner screwed it up. I’ve lost all respect for Japanese since living here.

    Good post well done!

  21. acjama 30 October 2012 at 4:39 pm Permalink

    I witnessed one in Oume line in Tokyo. Drunk geezer slept on train and took a lot of seats. School’s over, so lot of young “hooligans” (yeah yeah right!) going home to “Tokyo countryside”.

    One young sitting in front of me with his friends wondered if the geezer was still breathing, and after some fidgeting, walked over and woke him up to ask if he was ok. Of course geezer started to yell and insult, and the kid returned to his seat, looking mighty miffed.

    But the old geezer just kept throwing insults from across the train car. That was a bit too much for the kids friend, who jumped on his feet, ran over and grabbed the geezer by the collars. The first kid plus five or six others joined the fray from all over the car. The old geezer, noticing that absolutely nobody stood up for him, folded quite quickly and apologized. He sat up straight, looking at his feet the rest of the trip. Happy end, actually, because the geezer’s behaviour was way out of line.

    Also, my Japanese vocabulary has never increased as fast as then. Seriously, I have seen badly behaving Japanese kids, but not as many as old ones. They are definitely the worst.

  22. Dochimichi1 4 November 2012 at 2:08 am Permalink

    Wow, that was unexpected! To repeat the others – I’ve never imagined people could behave like that in Japan. That tosser clearly stumbled upon a magic pass to do and say whatever the hell he wants, since nobody would know how to handle that kind of situations in that super-polite country. Practically super-powers (of evil type 🙂
    I envy your composure, god knows what I would have done in your place.

  23. Victor 5 November 2012 at 12:40 pm Permalink

    Good writing. Unclimactic ending but entertaining nonetheless.

    • Locohama 5 November 2012 at 1:39 pm Permalink

      Thanks sir. Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah life gets to be anticlimactic sometimes doesn’t.

  24. Cedric D 20 December 2012 at 9:12 am Permalink

    After a while I got tired of the Japanese public transportation nonsense and got myself a J-license and a cheap car. My levels of stress dropped drastically. I’d rather pay too much for gas and insurance than having to sit through people’s BS day in and day out. But then again I live in the countryside where a car is necessary. Nice post my man.

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