It seems like every trip I take on a train of late fills me with inspiration for these posts.
Allow me to set the scene – you’ve boarded your peak hour train in the morning or the afternoon, ready for a long day or just coming home from one. You meander up or down the steps of the carriage with the faint hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a seat. From your spot on the second step of the staircase, lo and behold, you see one of the three-person seats, WITH ONLY TWO PEOPLE SITTING ON IT. Oh happy day!
You stroll on over and ask (sometimes without actually speaking, more pointing to the vacant spot and raising your eyebrows inquisitively) if you can join the party and help the seat reach its maximum capacity, letting it fulfil the purpose for which it was made. What you’re met with is a tense, resentment-filled and thinly-disguised eye-roll as the person on the end, instead of just sliding over, picks up their belongings and stands in the aisle so you can take the middle seat, giving you an air of “if you must” – YES I MUST – FUCK YOU!
While I’m not a fan of these people, I understand why some of them want to sit on the edge. Maybe they’re getting off at the next stop, or they’ve at least assessed that the probability of them getting off before I do is high (despite the fact they have no idea where I’m getting off – but I don’t know anything about them either so I’ll let it slide). Then again there are some who’ll sit on the edge solely in the hope that no one will ask to sit next to them. Assholes.
What I CAN’T FUCKING GET BEHIND is the completely undeserved feeling of resentment some people emanate, so much that you can almost smell it (and sometimes you can smell it) as they make the conscious choice to keep getting up and down from their seat for the sake of an arm rest or because, god forbid, they might have to touch legs with two people. If this is such a goddam problem for you, maybe you should just MOVE THE FUCK OVER, or if that simple act is such a heartbreaking struggle for you, maybe you should just STAND THE FUCK UP and let some people who aren’t pedantically fussy about where they sit in a train carriage that’s packed to capacity sit down and appreciate what you so undeservingly take for granted.
If that sounds particularly rage-filled, it’s because I’m sitting next to one of those people right now, and somewhere deep inside I’m secretly hoping they read this. Sadly, they’re too busy fixing their own appearance in the selfie-camera of their phone, and won’t feel my contempt.
But I digress, where was I?
Every train comes with a host of two-person seats. Some even come with one-seaters. At the ends of every carriage are longer seats that hold anywhere up to 10 or 12 people when you add them together. If you’ve made the CONSCIOUS CHOICE to sit on the end of a seat, I won’t begrudge you that. But LOSE THE FUCKING SELF-IMPORTANT ATTITUDE and maybe I won’t hate you for it as well.
I like to try and offer solutions to these situations, but there aren’t many when dealing with such a ‘poor victim’ as these, other than to meet their pedantic spite with some of your own. Sit real close to them, breathe heavily, look at the phone that they’re using to try and ignore you, play your music extra loud, fart. Since it’s already painfully clear that they hate everyone, you’re not affecting their perception of mankind, just reminding them what they hate about sitting next to people. Hopefully next time they won’t.
The other side of the human sandwich I currently find myself encased in is asleep. With his head against the window, his shoulders square and his back and legs evenly apart, he’s not going anywhere. No worries.
There is another type of sleeper that you’ll encounter on trains, though, and they don’t discriminate between morning and night. Or Monday or Friday.
You know the feeling. You’re sitting next to someone, and you’re reading, writing, staring endlessly at your phone, or even just keeping quietly to yourself (how old-fashioned). You’re touching shoulders with the person next to you and that’s fine, but it’s this slight contact that informs you that you’ve got a sleeper. You feel them slide against you and from the corner of your eye you see their head droop further and further in one direction before BAM! They suddenly snap themselves awake and look around dumbfounded. Then they wipe their hand over their face, or through their hair in some kind of attempt to ‘wake themselves up’.
Despite all that, and the appearance they give that they don’t want to fall asleep on the train, 40 seconds later they’re falling forward again, and the entire process keeps repeating ad infinitum for the hour you’re on the train together.
I get it, people get tired. Many work long hours in physically intensive jobs, some are just idiots who didn’t get to bed till 2 in the morning because they were up all night binge-watching something. I can’t really tell the difference a lot of the time, so I just apply a blanket of hatred instead.
What shits me about it is the constant repetition with no predictable pattern. The constant rocking and sliding, while rubbing up against you, results in not just a heavy level of distraction but an incredibly nauseating feeling by the end of it all.
If this is happening to you, why not just end the stupid dance and ask if you can sleep on my shoulder? If you don’t have a horrendous odour I might not even have a problem with it, it’s certainly preferable to this current situation.
If you start to feel like you’re going to fall asleep on the train and you don’t want to, JUST STAND UP. There’s even less chance you’re going to fall asleep while standing (unless you’re a horse), and if you do, and fall over, it’ll be far more hilarious than annoying.
Or you could just have a coffee or guarana-infused sugar bomb in a can, blare some loud music through your headphones.
Or you could just get some sleep instead of watching Netflix until 3 in the morning. You don’t have to by any means, but I also don’t have to feel any consideration or awkward sympathy for you when you can’t keep your eyes open on a Monday morning.
Until next time.