Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Small revenges

Tonight's journey has been palgued by assholes. For once, I decided against a working journey and all I wanted to do was read the paper. For the first hour, I had approximately 1/3 of my seat, thanks to the extra-large, pistachio cruncher who smelled vaguely of cat box.

Then, I got a tall guy opposite me and a space hog next to me. I pity the tall guy because his legs don't fit; I don't mind stuffing my legs under my seat so that he can sit. But the space hog annoyed me. So, I made a point of lowering my armrest and spreading my stuff to take up exactly my quarter of the table. She was then replaced by a sighing grumpy old biddy.

There's a perpetually cheery Russian trolley guy who often services this line when he can get a cart on the train. He looks like the stock giant KGB guy from cold war comedies, and is a profuse sweater. I never buy off the trolley, but the old biddy irately chewed him out for running over her foot, which shouldn't have been in the aisle. He didn't hear her spidery biddy admonition, but I did. I rewarded her rudeness by ordering a cup of tea so he had to come back and run it over again. Small victories.

Train hell

Train Buddy must have done something bad.

He's being punished by the train gods.

Nothing will turn your day to excrement like morning train problems. Our line services 3 of the North's largest cities, and all of the commuter towns in between. Yet, for some reason, the gods often send only enough carriages for approximately half of the passengers. Train Buddy's morning journey was described something like this: unmitigated disaster. Signal failures, cancellations, delays, heaving platform and then 2 carriages rock up. Folks standing from start.

As if it wasn't bad enough being an hour late for work and rammed like sardines with people's asses in his face, he got a booper nearby. A booper is someone that leaves the sounds on their phone keypad turned on [boop, boop, beep, bleep, boop] (see ettiquette post). He probably should have just gone home then, but in his words "aint no-one getting off this train without serious injury, and possibly a crowbar". So, instead he had to content himself with creative ideas for punishing the booper.

This morning, it was more of the same. He's scouting for sacrificial offerings to appease the train gods, so watch out.

I worked from home yesterday and took a later train this morning, thus escaping his fate. So obviously, it's his fault.

Work nirvana

So, Thursday I had the perfect working day. I came home in a fantabulous mood because everything went perfectly. The morning bus and train were on time. I had time to stop for a decent coffee on the way in, and I got to make idle chat with Train Buddy and the Comedy Expat (AKA Manstruator) from the comfort of decommissioned first class.
When I arrived at work, I had meetings that I enjoyed. Don't blink. You read that correctly. I enjoyed 2 meetings. I'm not sure that has ever happened before or that it will happen again. Everything I touched that day was golden. Except for the train bathroom, but we won't speak of that.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Train etiquette

There is an unwritten code of polite behaviour when travelling on the train. It is a complicated code, the nuances of which are generally only understood by the most seasoned travelller. If you do not wish to stand out as an obnoxious interloper, the following may help:

Train Etiquette for the Uninitiated
Music- nobody wants to hear yours, no matter how kicking your tracks are. Take the earbuds out of your ears. If you can still hear the music, or if anyone is looking at you, it's too loud.
Telephones- for the love of everything good and pure, shut of your keypad sounds. While you're texting, every beep boop boop puts you one second closer to an elbow in the face from anyone within range.

Just because your voice is transmitted to space and back doesn't mean you have to shout into your phone. Try to speak quietly if you must take a call. Better yet, don't take it at all. It will inevitably go something like this: "Arright mate? Yeah, like, where we meeting like? Gazza was so pissed last night. Hello? Hello?" Ring ring. "Yeah mate, on the train. So, like, I was saying...hello? Hello? Damn". Just give up and send a text. With the sound off.

Personal space- you get one armrest, and it's on the outer side. The one in the middle is not for arms. It's a divider between you and the other person.

Hygeine- showers, deodorant, and toothpaste are daily essentials. Wash your coat and jumpers, preferrably more than annually. No perfume. You may think it smells nice, but it only smells like rose scented cigarette ash and dog to everyone else.

Table seats- these seats are meant for four. Therefore, unless otherwise mutually agreed, you get one quarter of the table and floor space. With eye contact, you may initiate the complicated game of footsie with strangers that will allow you to negotiate an interlocking foot arrangement that will allow you to stretch your legs.

Personal items- Translation: "May I put your bag on the rack for you?" means: "Your stuff is in everyone's way, you selfish pain in the arse". If your bag did not pay for its own seat, move it. Put it on a rack, not on the floor under your seat. That area is not large enough to accomodate legs, let alone legs and your handbag/luggage/shopping/duffel bag full of body parts.

Seating- regular travellers have their "spot". Please try to respect this when choosing a seat. However, if it makes logistical sense for you to have an aisle because you will be getting up soon (for a station, toilet break, etc) you may wish to mention this so as not to be awkward.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


I dived out a bit early today because I've got an extra day of travel this week, and I was eager to escape the busy office to get some work done before anyone asked me to do any more favours.

Apparently, the early train has also been chosen by approximately 30 seemingly unsupervised, shrieking 8-year-old girls. From the sounds they are making, they must be travelling to GiggleFest 2009 or something equally annoying. Even the headphones won't cover it up. My best teacher voice was effective for about 5 minutes before it descended into madness again. Where oh where are the chaperones?
And the woman across from me at the table just pushed away her half-eaten mayo-drenched pasta salad to carry on to her next course. It was a full packet of precooked bacon. She ate it straight. I am not kidding.
Anyway, although there were butts and bags in my face for an hour, I had a seat and arrived on time. It's still a good day.

It's going to be a good day

Despite the frost, this morning's train was on time and not overly crowded. Train Buddy and I got to sit in the big seats (decommissioned first class). Apparently he didn't fare so well yesterday when two consecutive trains were cancelled due to "train failure". However, the morning's biggest success was my trip to the loo. That probably sounds like I have a medical problem, which is not what I meant.

Usually, I would prefer to do the squirm of desperation for an hour over going into one of the stink closets on the train. The dirt in the crevices of the toilets are often the only gIue holding the train together. It's nothing that some industrial-strength bleach and a power washer wouldn't sort, but I'm guessing the fare hikes just won't cover that level of service.

Sometimes, though, it is a necessity. This morning, the loo trip left me feeling like I only needed a shower after leaving. This is a huge improvement, because normally one leaves wanting a full ET style decontamination tent full of men in HazMat suits. It's gonna be a good day.