Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gee whiz

Week beginning nov 16th- 6 total journeys. 1 on time. 4 of 6 journeys were standing room only.
Woman's breath ponging from across the table. Good god, lady. Have a mint.

The Microculture

The commuter train is its own weird little microculture. There are rules and customs by which transient visitors are expected to abide.

There are also relationships that, much like a workplace, exist only within the confines of the train. People that have little in common are thrown together in less-than-pleasant circumstances for hours at a time. We each have our own little rituals to comfort us, like a favourite place to sit or a complex assortment of items to occupy us on the journey. Assuming, of course, that we have the luxury of a place to sit.

The "regulars" have plenty of opportunity to scope each other out and choose alliances. Sometimes, this is as simple as a friendly nod of acknowledgement or shared eye-roll at a late train or loud ipodipshit*, or it can evolve into a fully-fledged commuter team.

In this post, I'll introduce some of the cast of characters that are likely to reappear in future posts:

*IpoDipshit- name given to any one of the identical people listening to rubbish music out of headphones so loudly that the earbuds must be facing the wrong way in their ears. Also represented in gesture by a motion depicting strangulation by cord from white earbuds.

Train Buddy- the only other person on this route that goes the full distance. Cool geek that is my default choice (probably to his chagrin) for seatmate and conversation in the mornings.

Comedy Expat- after a conversation this morning, he suggested that he could be called the Manstruator, but that is a post for another day.

Ciderguy- always cracks a can of cider on the train and is an unlucky omen regarding successful journeys.

The cyclist - interesting council worker who apparently runs or cycles to the station each morning but somehow never appears sweaty or smelly. I think he just likes the feel of lycra in the morning.

Nescafe - never says a word, except for when he phones home to check in at exactly the same place on the route every day. In the evenings makes himself a hazelnut nescafe that fragrances the whole carriage.

The Verbose Professors- Profs A and B- often found in a pair- interesting chaps discussing abstract, irrelevant, and sometimes entertaining topics.

Shirt and Tie- quiet and fairly attractive guy that never speaks, but gives off a slight vibe of underlying jerkdom. Good choice of seatmate when I want to get my head down and work.

The Gaggle- loud group of giggly and completely inane uni students that assume that all aboard are supremely interested in their business.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Travel elation

My evening train arrived home on time last night, though it was standing-room only. The fact that this makes me happy enough to skip across the platform is another testament to the power of low expectations. The one this morning was inexplicably late, so the punctual one causes elation. It's as though the rail people know this. Crafty.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Caffeine is a powerful drug

It's 6:10 in the morning, pitch black. Raining, gusting wind and all I want is a freaking coffee. I've been standing outside the coffee shop on the platform next to the sign reading "We open at 6" while the 25 year old guy manning the shop potters about behind the counter. He is refusing to acknowledge my presence until he saunters slowly over to unlock the door. He looks pointedly in my direction and unlocks the OTHER door.

In a former, pre-commuting life, I probably would have launched into a tirade about the fact that I'm frozen and soggy, now have 4 minutes to catch my train and if I can get myself to the station at this hour after being up all night with a deadline, he can damn well open the door on time. However, I've learned something from my travels. Three-quarters of the people coming through here are travel-weary, confused and enraged, so that tactic won't work. Besides, I'm pretty sure that this guy lives with his mother and spends his money on pirated DVDs. Shouting won't faze this guy. So, instead I opt for confusing him by being cheerful. When I finally get in the shop, I ask him if they no longer open at 6.

The extra from Clerks slowly looks me up and down, before deciding that I'm cool and and on his side, so explains that his bosses have decided to stop paying for staff to take a taxi to work because of the recession. So, he's showing his protest by opening the shop when he feels like it. I get the impression that I'm supposed to join him in outrage and congratulate him for sticking it to the man. Instead I just order a large americano and a bacon sandwich while checking my watch and wondering if I'll have time. The customer service poster boy throws me a bone. He won't be bothering to put out any sandwiches for another hour or two, so I'll have time to make the train after all.