Commuter hating

Monday evening aside, I’m not on the trains this week, Clare being back into the regular routine of driving us both in. But one evening last week I shared my commute, as I occasionally do, with Jen, one of the sew make believe girls. She asked me whether getting a lift into Oxford was easier than the commute, and it sparked a discussion about train travel, delays, and the joys of other passengers.

Sharing a lift into Oxford doesn’t save me anything significant in the way of time. I leave the house 5 minutes later and get into the office 5 minutes earlier on a good run. We cannot leave as early as I’d like in the evening, as Clare’s line manager is less lenient – acknowledging that Clare is at her desk an hour before everyone else, but refusing to let her leave until 15 minutes before the office’s regular closing hour. So it actually loses me approx half an hour each evening in terms of getting home.

It does, however, save me enough money to make it worthwhile. Halving petrol costs comes in roughly the equivalent of halving my train/bus tickets. Which, when we’re talking £297 for a monthly pass, makes a real difference.

But where car sharing really pays dividends has to be with my sanity. Because I hate hate HATE my fellow train passengers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these are perfectly friendly, polite people under normal circumstances. But put them in the vicinity of a train and they seem to lose all sense of common decency. They push and shove and elbow and blank, put bags, coats and feet on seats to stop you from sitting beside them, and generally show no respect for their fellow man. They lose the great British art of queueing, not to mention any semblance of common sense – as demonstrated by a steadfast refusal to let other people OFF the train before attempting to get ON. In short, they revert to apes.

Thankfully, rather than think me a crazy woman with far too few real worries in her life, Jen agreed with me on the matter. And we discovered a bond we shared: each of us has a particular commuter to whom we’ve never spoken, with whom we’ve never really interacted, but for whom we feel a deep-rooted sense of resentment, even dislike.

These are women we actively dislike entirely because of how they act as train passengers. Jen’s anger was such that it had altered her entire routine – she now boards the train at the opposite end, just to avoid seeing the other woman. The woman I hate (and yes, I feel a true hatred towards her – even when I spot her plait swinging through the city centre in an unconnected situation I feel my eyes narrow in response) shows no outward respect for her fellow man. She has bony elbows and regularly deploys them, with no regard for whether they meet with a business suit or little old lady’s ribs. And she doesn’t understahnd the “bubble” concept. She knows where the train doors will open, and if someone – me, for example – happens to be standing in that exact spot, she will come and stand directly in front or beside me, literally brushing against me (on one occasion even on one of my toes) to ensure I don’t get on first. This is not a crowding issue – the platform, while busy, doesn’t get that horribly squashed – she just doesn’t seem to understand the concept of personal space, particularly where it might mean having to be second or third to board a train.

Funnily enough, I recall the incident that tipped my feelings for this woman from irritation to hatred as clearly as if it was yesterday. There was a queue of people trying to get off the train, behind a young mother who was struggling to lift down her pushchair. Had I been able to force my way past the bony elbow barrier I would have lifted the front for her, to help her off the train, but as it was, no-one helped at all. The wheel was wedged, unseen by the frustrated and embarrassed mother, and her efforts to wrench the buggy through the doors were proving fruitless as a result. For seconds that felt like hours I watched as the mother became more and more distressed… Finally with an audiblly irritated sigh, the object of my objection stepped forward…

And elbowed her way past the mother and buggy, and onto the train.

It was the mother’s mortification that sealed it for me. No-one has the right to make someone that visibly distressed without reason. I was so angry, I wanted to scream.

Naturally I didn’t: I sighed equally audibly, flashed the breeziest smile I could muster at the mother and lifted the front of her pushchair for her, halting the path of any potential followers with my far-from-bony (but equally effective) barrier of a bottom.

Some people would say it is a waste of energy to obsess over a woman who is entirely oblivious of my existence, let alone my feelings towards her.  Others would say it was an invitation to bad karma, putting these pointless negative thoughts out there into the universe. Personally, I don’t care either way. It’s unlike me to feel quite so strongly about someone, yet I feel justified in my anger. I will continue to narrow my eyes at that swinging plait, whether she realises it or not!


5 thoughts on “Commuter hating

  1. The dress looks great! Did you stitch the straps so it isn’t a halter? I may do that with mine – wearing a halter neck often gives me a headache 😦

    Anyway, you know yourself how deeply I feel you on the commuter rage. There are a couple of people I see on my daily commute that stress me out. One of them isn’t because of how she behaves in terms of getting on the train, but because she’s always standing at the top of the steps onto the platform and when I walk past her she gives me the dirtiest look – like properly looking me up and down, scowling and tutting. I don’t know what I did to offend her!

    You saw my tweet this morning about the woman who has been pissing me off recently – when the train is pulling into the station she barrels down the edge of the platform to get to where the doors open and, quite apart from being REALLY rude it’s also very dangerous because the platform is so crowded it’s difficult to get out of her way. I know it’s petty but she annoyed me so much yesterday morning (also by cycling past me at high speed in that little tunnel near the station – GET A BELL) that this morning I went out of my way to slow her down. It felt like a moral victory! It amazes me because while my train is crowded, it’s not like tube train crowded (well, sometimes they miss off a carriage and then it is) and people behave so badly in order to get a seat, and usually for very short journeys. It’s depressing, and I often think that people forget that they’re in public. Depressing things I have witnessed on public transport include
    – men watching porn on laptops. I used to see this ALL THE TIME when I was commuting to London
    – Stand-up rows about bags on seats. Like, the person with the bag on the seat arguing with the seatless person about giving up the seat
    – The man I sat next to on Thursday morning last week ate his breakfast, then swilled his mouth out loudly with water and spat on the floor of the train. I wanted to cry.

    Yuck yuck yuck, but I suspect if I were driving I’d find many other things to make me angry 😦

    • Yes, I turned the halter into straps – they give me a tension headache too, and I prefer to be able to wear a bra if possible.

      There are plenty of things that irritate me about driving, and quite often I’ll get angry at the lack of generosity of your average Joe on the A34, but I don’t get so very disillusioned, so very regularly.

      I think it’s important to take these small moral victories when we can – we’re doing our bit to balance the universe out again! x

  2. I’ve only ever driven, walked or caught the bus with my places of work, and walking is absolutely my commute of choice! I would give my left arm to still be able to walk in – I can listen to music, people usually apologise when they bump into you by accident, and it’s good to be in the fresh air.

    Buses – never really had that much of an issue, even though you would think they were the same as trains in terms of people waiting, queuing. However, we all always formed an orderly line. People seemed to know who was late/early, and waited accordingly. I caught the same bus for 2 years, and I can still remember some of the people now!

    Cars – meh. I like having some peace on my own, listen to the radio, enjoy the scenery (seriously!) and usually the run in is ok. However, I’ve come across many, many inconsiderate numpties in my time. What comforts me is what I call Car Karma. Let someone out? They will do it for you. Very nice. Although, saying that, Roisin will testify I get THE RAGE with crap drivers!

    So, I wonder what it is with trains that brings out the worst in people? Space? A large platform? It seems odd that those early morning commuter trains get the worst people from what you say!

    Also – is your hair still holding onto those amazing ringlets a bit? Because it looks gorgeous! What a beautiful wave. I love! xxx

    • Yes, it is still holding the curls – brushed them out a bit, but today I have a bouncy ponytail with a lovely wave to it!

      No, I never had the same experience with buses, and can still recall regulars even from the weekday Waterstones run, which I only did for 4 months. My favourite will always be walking though – there’s no better way to kick-start your brain I’m sure. xxx

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