Running late? Prove it.

Today was a cold, cold day. The coldest day in Tokyo in a period of 48 years, the news read. If you have to work in the morning, you feel the cold piercing through your skin even colder. And then you realize that the trains are late as hell, because a train wagon stopped in Ebaramachi – resulting in two connecting train lines falling into chaos.  So, the “daiya” is interrupted – as the announcer repeats – and I will be late for work. As I get off the train, heading to Shinagawa, the bustling business center, I notice a couple of train employees handing out some small pieces of paper while shouting an announcement to the passengers. I remembered that Japanese companies are strict when employees are late, and for this reason train companies issue apologies and ‘excuse sheets’ when a train is delayed, even for a single minute. I curiously got one of the magic sheets – as I said, I was about to be delayed myself, thinking about handing it to my supervisor.

This is a train delay certificate (遅延証明書  chienshoumeisho) from Tokyou lines. The left hole indicates the delay period (40-60min) and the bottom hole the day of the month (26th). It is more simple than I expected, but what else can you expect from a proof of delay? My first though was how easily you can copy it, print it, and punch holes according to what you need. But someone is probably using the same line as you and words of the delay will spread if it is true, so you don’t want to risk it (they always discuss news about train problems at work). I proudly gave it to my supervisor, but he surprised me by saying that our company is not so strict and that it is the first time he sees something like that up close. Anyway, I’ll keep it as a memento of how even the little things bear enormous consequences in the land of the rising sun.

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