Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Travel etiquette reprise

It appears that the rules have not been circulated to all travelers, so it may be time for a gentle reminder. This sort of thing applies not only to trains, but also to airplanes, buses, waiting rooms, and anywhere that strangers are forced to sit near each other in confined spaces. Here are some of my top tips for trying not to be a traveling douchebag.

Selecting a seat: If there are other empty seats, I avoid sitting directly next to or directly facing someone who is already seated. When opposite, you take up valuable leg room. Sitting right next to someone when there is other space available just seems creepy and weird.

Conversations: Unless it's an emergency, don't bother someone who is working, reading, lost in thought sleeping, or has headphones in. If you have exchanged several looks with a person that indicate a conversation would be welcome (about a delay, the weather, or whatever), then try it. If the person is monosyllabic, just accept that pleasantries are fine and the other person probably doesn't want to commit to conversing with you for the duration of the voyage.
Space: I can't stress this one enough. The central armchair is a buffer. It is a divider. It belongs to neither person, and should never be used. The minute your arm is on that central space, you've taken up more than your fair share. If everyone used the outer ones, nobody would have the unpleasant experience of having a stranger's flabby, unwashed wool encased bicep in her face. Not that this scenario occurred for over an hour this morning or anything. If this does happen to you, I suggest a bit of passive-aggressive shifting of one's weight so that the armrest gets repeatedly bumped from underneath and the offender's typing gets screwed up a few times. He'll stop.
Leg space: When facing someone, either keep your feet to your allocated imaginary half of the space, or carefully and consensually negotiate the interlocking spaces to increase leg room for each person, but Do Not Touch the other person.

Seat space: I am an appropriate BMI for my height. Therefore I do not take up the entire seat. However, I have paid for it. I enjoy the whole seat. If you are too big for your seat, please do not feel that this entitles you to spill into mine. It is your responsibility to either pay for an additional seat for your other butt cheek, or spill it into the aisle and risk the battering of the trolley and passing suitcases. Your ass, your peril.
Hygeine: Bathe yourself daily and use deodorant. Avoid perfumes. You may love your rose and bergamot spritz and your jasmine hand cream, but I can assure you that nobody else wants to be oppressed by a cloud of your woodsy musk or floral tones. Wash your clothes, including suits and outerwear often. In a warm and crowded space, the smell of damp, of old cigarettes, old sweat, pets, ass, and general city smells is enough to make people hurl. Also, don't fart. Keep that shit to yourself.

Illness: Cover your mouth when you cough. Use the inside of your elbow. Coughing through the hole in your fist and then touching the table with it spreads germs. Blow your nose and then dispose of the tissue. That snarfing snot noise or sniffling repeatedly is gross and may just drive someone to start drinking at 8am.

Noise: generally, it's a good rule of thumb to simply STFU. Despite the audience in your head, nobody actually wants to be made aware of your existence when they are travelling. Get off the phone. Speak quietly to companions. If you take your earbuds out of your ears and can still hear the music, it's too loud.
Follow these simple rules, and you are less likely to be killed by some crazed academic who has reached the end of her tether.

1 comment:

  1. Constance, the time at which this was posted suggests you are half-crazed by the time you reach home, but enraged enough to take the time to craft an appropriate reminder to the clueless commuters amongst us.
    And I LOVE it.

    You make me almost sorry I no longer have to share this daily crap with you.