One of the most awesome things about Japan is that you can expect amazing customer service just about anywhere. With exuberant convenience store clerks and burger deliverymen who reimburse you for the phone call you placed your order with, you almost expect employees to come bursting out of the walls in order to serve you…and sometimes they do!
The automated train and subway ticket machines in Japan are amazingly efficient. Even still, on very rare occasions they jam, and sometimes users get lost navigating the array of touchscreen menus for normal tickets, express train tickets, charging their prepaid cards, or the various other available options.
That’s why each terminal has a button you can press to call for an attendant if you run into trouble. However, at some sprawling stations there’s a bit of a walk from the turnstile to the farthest bank of ticket machines. With commuters in a hurry, no one wants to waste time while the attendant walks all the way from the back office to the gate, and then around to the person who needs help.
So instead, they take a more direct route.
In many stations, the panels between the terminals are hinged, allowing the station staff to make like more helpful, less destructive versions of the Kool-Aid Man by popping out from behind the walls to solve the problem.
Although stations have incorporated these designs for years, the reliability of their ticket terminals means that even Japanese nationals don’t see this sight too often, as illustrated by online comments.
“So that’s where they come from when you hit the button!”
“This happened when I didn’t know how to buy my commuter pass, and I was really surprised.”
“I’ve only seen this one time in my life.”
“ Otsukare sama desu .”
But remember, the station employees all have busy jobs, so tapping the call button just to see them pop out from behind the wall isn’t cool. If, though, you make a point of always buying your tickets from the oldest, most dilapidated machine you can find, and secretly cross your fingers that the coin slot will jam, we won’t hold it against you.
Source, image: Hamster Sokuho