Monday, 25 May 2009

The Daily Commute

For those of you who also follow me on Facebook, you would have noticed lately that I have been posting up 'If I Ruled The World' rules as my status updates. And you may also have noticed that the vast majority (if not all) of them are aimed at the people I have to share my journey into work with, i.e. commuters.

I think you can get the measure of a person by how they behave on a bus or train when faced with what they obviously see as challenges. For example, if somebody sits next to you do you a) try and skooch along even though there isn't that much room or b) stretch your legs out even further so that the other person is precariously balanced on one butt cheek? That to me says that elsewhere in your life you are a rude, arrogant person who clearly thinks you are more important than the people you pass on the street. Or how about this one? When walking to or from the train station do you a) hold your head up high, taking care to avoid fellow passengers or b) bury your head in your mobile phone or a book? Now that to me smacks of an inconsiderate and once again, rude person. And as my fiancé so rightly and hilariously pointed out to me the other day, the world is full of cunts.

I wasn't always like this. I lived in York for a few years, and you can pretty much walk everywhere if you live close enough to the town centre. And if I got the bus, my only concern was whether or not I got a seat. It seems like London has turned me into this festering scab of rage as there are far more people to dislike and far more modes of transport to get angry with. Now, don't get me wrong - if anything terrible was to happen to somebody on public transport I would like to think I would step in there and help, but most of the time I bury myself in a good book and play my iPod just to make doubly sure no-one tries to make eye contact with me. I have far more negative experiences on the train than positive, so they have melded into one horrendous train journey, so much so, that the nicest thing that happened on the train with a total stranger stands out so vividly to me. It sounds like such a non-event, but it made my day I can tell you. The man I was sitting next to was doing a cryptic crossword and he asked me for my help on a clue he was stuck on. The fact he thought I should know was nice enough (I did get it actually), but also that he was willing to break the basic rules of commuting and have a conversation with somebody he didn't know was great. I could feel people looking at us and I swear some of them seemed to melt a little and gave off a feeling of jealousy that they hadn't been the one to sit next to this renegade crossword-puzzler. It was a nice sunny day, and I had a little glow inside me for the rest of the morning. Thank you Crossword Puzzle Man, wherever you are.

Despite my very English complaining, I don't want to be the cynical, scowling person that the daily commute is clearly turning me into - I am only 26 so I need a few more disappointments thrown at me before I get to that stage. But it is an awful, awful thing when the outcome of your day can be measured by how you were treated on the train by a fellow human being. One that you don't even know for that matter. And for me, it is so easy to either please me send me into a rage. I saw something that I truly despise and that was a lady walking while sending a text on her mobile phone, holding up a fair sized crowd coming out of Waterloo station. As you can imagine, I shook my head to myself and boiled inside, but then when the guy trying to get past her did the same as me I started smiling instead. I had found my kindred spirit and it made me realise for a split second that I am not alone and that the vast majority of people aren't cunts, they just have to live with one or two of them occasionally.

1 comment:

  1. I used to commute via the train and the tube when I worked at the Science Museum for a bit. Bearing in mind that I only had to do this at the most, around 3 times a week, it's quite alarming how violently and swiftly it made me hate the human race. It was a relief when I moved jobs and stopped being quite so angry all the time.

    Nowadays I only have to get one bus to work, but that is still full of the potential to get me into a rage. With regards to behaviour on the bus relating to how people are in the rest of their lives, I would have to say that the biggest walking cunts alive are people who listen to their (dreadful) music out loud on public transport. Given that the music quality is always crap, and a better listening experience would certainly be had through earphones, I can only assume they do it because they are that fucking rude that they want to force their appalling taste in music on everyone else, whether they like it or not. I honestly see it at best as appallingly ignorant, and at worst as a form of intimidation.