Having recently embarked on a project in LDN, of all places, I have gleefully (of sorts) joined the commuter (cattle) class. There was a romance to commuting that had hovered above my head, somewhere where fanciful ideas meet misguided notions, for those that commute to far flung cities are the hallowed, no? These are the ‘too talented for their provincial lot’, the ‘big fish in small ponds’, the ‘somewhere over the rainbow chasers’. How brave, how adventurous, how exciting.
How truly, very, completely misguided!
When fantasy and reality collide, often involving Satre’s dreaded l’autre, the result is far from ideal. The rainbow ends in a mired field, the sea is chock full of sharks, the city is not necessarily brimming with the bright and beautiful. To add insult to injury in order to reach this hallowed space some mode of transportation is needed. In lieu of teleportation, hoverboards, or an expensive personal chauffeur the hoi polloi must travel by public means, with other members of the public.
Therein lies woe.
Nothing brings home the salty taste of humanity like travelling with other humans. Surely there is a way to do this without descending into madness? We’re mostly adults… civilised… conscientious… (sigh)
The reality is that while most commuters are mostly adults few seem civilised and fewer still conscientious. Harsh? If I were uncivilised enough to film strangers on a daily basis, without their permission, the thorny truth would out. The shoving, pushing, squeezing, spitting, scratching, sniffing, picking, spreading, snoring, scoffing would reveal itself and I doubt anyone would be ashamed. You see, to the seasoned commuter, it’s all perfectly normal and it’s only a matter of time before us newbies get used to it… [having been told this several times by seasoned commuters]
Still. While I take my merry time getting used to it I feel that there ought to be some basic tenets of happy commuting and will humour myself with the following;
1 – Space is not the final frontier… it’s the first bloody consideration!
I could be bound in a nutshell and consider myself a… whatever Hamlet, whatever. Most trains are woefully inadequate when it comes to space in general.
People are bigger. Fact.
There are more of us. Fact.
Ergo more big bums vying for the same limited space is simple cruelty. There’s something utterly traumatising about having to squish yourself next to a relative stranger for an hour at a time, rubbing sweaty shoulders as you struggle to breathe evenly, shimmying every second in a vain attempt to find some degree of ‘comfortable’. If you’re thinking ‘why don’t you just stand?!’, note the series of photos below going from ‘wow, ample space’ (for a commute) to ‘just why?!”;
2 Personal space; know your limit
a) Are we banging? No? Please refer to the above.
b) Are we friends? No? Please refer to the above.
c) Are we somewhere social where I have to put up with this crap? Sort of. Please refer to the above.
Manspreading, womanspreading, childspreading… whoever is spreading just sthap it already! It’s hell when the rush hour crush is on but unnecessary proximity when there are clearly empty seats is just unholy.
Check. Your. Self.
… because all the eateries you passed to get on the train were simply not good enough? Because you’re that hungry that waiting the extra 30 minutes will have you melt into oblivion? Because you don’t care that the smell of your tuna/chicken curry/stinky cheese sandwich has actually made several people openly gag?
Acquaint yourself with the below.
There is a time, and a place, for chomping down on certain meals.
The crowded train is not one of them.
Sort your life out.
In a nutshell all these gripes boil down to the invasion of space. From the unavoidable to the damned near crazy; getting into another’s personal space – physically, audibly, olfactorily – is unpleasant, unless invited, for all involved.
Eventually we may all have to resort to drastic measures to keep the ‘others’ at bay…
First class ticket anyone?