I’ve been back on the commuter trail these last few months and it has been a sharp reminder of what irks me so much about commuting into London to work.
I don’t actually mind the earlier starts or the actual train journey… it’s more to do with the weird things people do on trains which drive me insane with irritation.
And I have to admit, it’s mostly men who are the culprits.
First off is the “hacker” and I don’t mean the computer genius type… these are those chaps (now away from their wives, who would no doubt give them short shrift if they caught them at it!) feel it is completely appropriate to hack up the old, unused phlegm from the back of their noses and throats to generously share it with their fellow travellers. What really drives me wild with annoyance is that they do this throughout their journey. Once or twice would be forgivable… we all get the sniffles occasionally but not every two or three seconds, like some kind of nervous tick!
Then there are the “leg spreaders”. You know the type: a guy who seems incapable of keeping his legs within his own seat space, but spreads them over into yours, so that you end up with a minuscule amount of room for your own legs, bags and laptop - and you end up scrunched into the corner of the train, trying to keep your legs from making contact with his! Is this some kind of bizarre male “bragging” tactic which is really saying, “Look! My manhood is so enormous, I’m incapable of closing my legs”?
Next up are the “seat-hoggers“. Those people who choose to sit in the aisle seat and then act as if you’ve committed serial war crimes if you ask them to move so you can sit in the spare window seat. They glare, they huff and then with glacial movements, slowly, begrudgingly, they move their precious bag (clearly they bought TWO tickets when they got to the station that morning) and finally move and let you sit down!
My next whinge is about the “arm swingers” - fairly innocuous you would think, but why do so many people swing their arms with such gusto and abandon? This is particularly dangerous on a rainy day when umbrellas are in abundance!
The “arm swingers” are in the same category as the “serial dawdlers” - those people who are unused to walking as if they are competing in the “Commuter Olympics” of getting to where you’re going as fast as humanly possible. Admittedly, they are mostly tourists or day trippers (for the love of God, stay at home until the cheap tickets kick in!) who don’t understand how the ticket machines work or come to an abrupt halt at either the top or bottom of the escalator, so that the rest of us start piling up as we try to exit and find ourselves wind-milling backwards on the escalator frantically trying to avoid mass collision!
Boris, never mind the bloomin’ bikes… put in “commuter” and “dawdler” walking lanes and you’ll be a shoe-in for the mayoral election!
However, the one mitigating factor is that when the sun is shining and the sky is blue and you find yourself travelling over Waterloo Bridge with the Thames glinting like a rather grubby window-pane in the sunlight, the view up the river of St Paul’s Cathedral and the surrounding skyline is a small salve to the weary commuter’s sanity!
I can‘t be the only one! … what are your top commuting whinges? - AM
photo: Sam Lavi