Observations of a commuter

Commuting seems to be a way of life now, for everyone. If, like me you don’t live in a city and the only local job prospects are a paper round or working at the local charity shop. Chances are you’ll be hitting the road early or catching a train.

The town I’ve grown up in and now live in is probably most well known for its castle, but aside from that it’s a Scooby Doo background reel of Indian restaurants, opticians and pubs. Therefore my week days are spent packed in like sardines with the general public on the train hurtling towards civilisation.

2 years of using a train 5 days a week will open your eyes to politics you never knew, hygiene issues you couldn’t comprehend, and manners from grown adults that even my two year old would turn her nose up at. Within weeks of starting my “job in the city” I’d highlighted; “rude man with the colourful bag”, “lady with the fake nails tapping on her laptop”, “annoying lady with the bike” and “the geezer who always has a beer” on my trip to or from work.

I spent near on 3 years in my last job commuting by car, and the less said about that the better. My commute on the train generally speaking is a lot easier 90% of the time, but in the last couple of years I’ve noticed a few categories of people I see almost every day.

The seat keeper: We’ve all done it, put our bag on the seat usually to prevent “that weird guy with a can of special brew and a mouse in his pocket” from sitting next to you. But when it’s a packed train, don’t be that dick. I think the most millenial version of that  was someone using the seat next to them to keep their sushi safe.

The picker: Busy or quiet, sat alone or at a table. This person will go at their nose/ears/fingernails (or all of the above) like a dog on hot chips. Stare in disgust all you like, it won’t change a thing.

The outspoken: As ‘Brits’ we can be polite to the point that someone can turn around and slap you in the face and you’ll apologise for getting in the way “oh sorry!” So when you get someone willing to shout at people to move down the carriage so they can get on, no one knows how to react. I have a combination of respect and dislike for these people. It all depends on whether I have someone else’s armpit in my face when I’m being told to “BUDGE UP!” at 7 in the morning.

The stinker: As we finally get some hot weather, we have to be grateful for the fact the sun is showing its face, but with hot weather comes hot armpits and those with an evident disdain for deodorant seem to gather on the train like some kind of stinky cult. Bring a peg or hold your breath, or do as we all do and throw them some death stares!

The Cyclist: Probably my Achilles heel, and the one that at the wrong time is likely to push me over the edge. Those out there with a “foldy bike” I salute you, they are relatively compact and mean 4 spaces for people aren’t eradicated by one object. But you full size bike cyclists who take up the majority of the standing area with your bike and ride your muddy wheel up my trouser legs trying to get on and off during rush hour, need to take your bike and do exactly what it’s designed to do… RIDE IT! Annnnd breathe.

The Backpack: I don’t expect people to carry their laptops on their head, and I too am a backpack wearer. But when you are back/armpit/arse/face to face on a busy train, the last thing you need is someones Eastpak bag to the face as they wobble around on the journey in.

The shit headphones: No I’m not an air pod snob, but I am very much a headphones in, no eye contact commuter. When I look for headphones, I look for the type that will give me good quality sound and keep my secret playlists of Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes in my ears and away from the ears of those around me. So why is it that Gary with his can of Monster and CEX bag insists on using his tinny apple headphones to share his love for Slipknot at 8 in the morning?

The ‘manners mean nothing’: Whether it’s giving way in your car, letting someone get out of the lift before you jump in, or holding the door for someone, generally speaking your good manners go a long way. Why is it that some people don’t understand the simple concept that you should allow other commuters to get off the train before you try and get on. Idiots.

The people that don’t understand the three seat rule: You know the train carriages that have two seats on one side and three seaters facing one another on the other side. Well, when the designers for this carriage got together they were clearly going all out to make sure the general public want to fight each other, asking the question, “how can we force the people to sit on what is realistically only two seats, but make it look like 3?”. Whether it’s an elbow to the ribs, someone partially sat on your legs for the majority of your journey, or a death stare that says, “NO, 30 stone man, the middle seat is not big enough for you to sit between me and someone else on this 32 degree day”, NOTHING good ever comes from the 3 seats of doom. Treat the 3 seats as you would the urinal rule. And if you don’t get that, well just know that you’re the dick head that will take the last seat.

In all of this angry rant about the general public I can’t lose sight of the fact that I’m probably not the ideal person on the commute, as by the sounds of it I’m ‘The guy who stares and judges everybody else’. But I guess we all have to play a role.


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