Are you a commuting Pariah?
Over the last few years, i have been mentally calculating a list of the most socially unacceptable behaviour to display in front of others on public transport. Given the time I spend on public transport daily, I have encountered each and every one one of these qualities, sometimes all in the one person. Here is my Top Ten list. If any of these at all seem familiar, shame on you. I am judging. You are a commuting Pariah my friend.
1) - Eye Contact
Given the sitting situation on the tube, potentially unavoidable. You know how it is. sitting across the way from a fellow passenger, you notice them come in and sit down a stop after you. You notice how attractive they are so maybe your eyes linger a little longer than is socially acceptable. Eventually you are caught staring and you begin a never-ending game of eye contact tennis. An even more awkward situation is when someone blatantly stars at you with no shame whatsoever, you find yourself sneaking side glances to see if they're still looking, they are. What do you do? You can hardly shout ‘ what you fucking looking at?’ without coming across as some sort of lunatic. So you put up with it. Bastards have now ruined your journey home from work and you become obsessed with the idea that there is food on your face. Maybe that cheese pastry is scattered all over your 5 o clock shadow? Damn if only you were directly across from a window you could check your reflection. Damn now you can no longer enjoy your book and will have to read the adverts across the aisle over and over again, careful to avoid looking at the person who is openmouthedly eye raping you that very second.
Side-note: when tired or drunk, you can become transfixed staring into what you think is space when is in fact in the full direction of someones face. Please avoid as you are ruining their journey home.
2) - Bad Music
Even if i am about to get stuck into a novel, I will have my head phones in. I find it stops weirdos trying to make awkward conversation with me. I tend to be more of a reader when travelling as I think it makes it go faster and allows me to forget where I am. Only when drunk or extremely tired will I bop along to music instead of reading. This is why this situation annoys me. Someone with their music on far too loud, so loud, we can all hear their Craig David playlist blaring through their headphones. If you insist on bad musical taste then beware, when the tube slows down, we can all hear your atomic kitten mega mix leaking through your cheap pink headphones love. As the train slows down, the tannoy rings out ‘ Warren Street’ - but all I hear is ‘ YOU CAN MAKE ME WHOLE AGAIN’. No-one wants to get caught out listening to bad music, lets face it we've all got our guilty pleasures but lets try and keep them a secret by not causing irreparable damage to our ears and other peoples ears in public.
Side-note: I did at one stage get caught when slightly inebriated listening to Christy Moore at top volume and bopping along. The dancing to bad music is just as bad, needless to say its hard not to shuffling along to it when a little tipsy. Try. Try hard not too.
3) - Phone on Loud
This situation caused a right old scene on a recent train journey. Elderly people love to have their old Nokia phones on loud. That way any button they press makes an annoying ‘Beep’ sound as they work their way manually through their phonebook finding the number they ring 20 times a day. This annoyed a group of people so much that a young man spurred on by his fellow passengers actually reprimanded a older man for having is button tone turned on and insisted on shouting directions down the carriage to show the man how to disable this sound. Lesson learned, do not upset the status quo.
4) - Loud Conversations
Why is there always some business woman called Carol or business man called Matt, conducting what sounds like a full on conference call on a commuter train at 8 in the morning that will unavoidably go through a reception black spot? ‘ Tom, Tom, Sorry going to have to ask you to bear with - going through a bad reception area’ TOM TOM JUST GOING THROUGH A TUNNEL. For fuck sake Matt, wait until you get off the train, none of us care about the Barclay deal going through or your issues with Tina in accounts doing the purchase orders incorrectly.
5) - No headphones
This is a new one, what the hell is up with people who think its socially acceptable to watch their little known favourite TV program on their iPad without headphones? Are you actually being serious? You want us all to listen to the reunion episode of bad bitches season two? We all watched it last night, we don't need to hear it again. This is usually accompanied by them laughing loudly with their entire body in convulsions which is usually very uncomfortable for the shy girl that is inevitably seated next to this social pariah. I recently witnessed a lady actually tell a guy to ‘shut his mouth’ when he asked her to use her headphones.
6) - Smell
With the good weather and packed tube this is unavoidable for some people which I do truly appreciate. There is nothing worse then standing on a packed tube holding onto the bars with people rammed at either side. Each and every time, that horrible all day stench will start to seep through your nostrils at lightening speed. What worries me more is when I smell something bad on the tube that smells like sweat and I start to panic that it is coming from me. This is when I subtly try to smell myself to see if i can pick up any sort of bad scent. I will undoubtably get caught sniffing my own armpit by a fellow passenger who will then think the smell that is rapidly filling the carriage faster then the spread of the Flu is coming from me.
7) - Shoes Off
Oh why don’t you make yourself feel right at home with no shoes on? You dirty bastard. For some reason shoes off seems to be far more common when it is raining outside. I recently got caught in a massive storm and ran to the nearest tube like everyone else in London. Only to be then sat across the way from what looked like a teacher who had both her shoes off and was massaging her feet with her hands then holding onto the bars (which we all hold on to). Shoes off in public is only acceptable on a bloody beach. Not on a packed tube that is already filled with disease.
8) - Camera Positioning
With the sudden trend of tube crush, taking photos of strangers on the tube is a standard. Nothing makes a person feel on tenterhooks more then when a person nearby holds their phone in what looks like a camera ready pose. Are they taking a photo of me? Why are they holding it that way? What way do i look today. Are they taking photo of me to send to their friends to take the piss out of me?Do i have food on my face? Suddenly the tube carriage takes a sharp turn and you see they are playing a motion racing game which requires them to hold the phone that way. phew.
9) - Lean Back
Someone will always try and take advantage of a packed tube to treat you like a leaning post. Recently a guy tried in vain to do this to me. He was full on leaning on me while the tube rattled on at a ungodly hour in the morning. I left him off for a stop or two. Let him get good and comfortable in the knowledge his little man made leaning post is all ready to be used and abused. Then when he least expects it, i rapidly move out of from behind him to the side so when the tube comes to a suddenly halt this cheeky bastard nearly knocked out a beefy dude and old lady in one as he went flying. That will teach him.
10) - Seat Hurdlers
We have all been there. On a busy morning commute, the train is packed and the standing section of the tube is so packed that everyone is standing along the carriage seat sections avoiding standing on peoples toes. A seat frees up a a ridiculously early tube station. Out of nowhere a ninja like business man and old lady battle it out hurtling over everyone in direct combat to get the one free seat. Which will undoubtedly be taken by the lady standing with her issue of Stylist as she was standing nearest when the guy got out of the seat. The business man and old lady now straighten up like nothing happened and return to reading their newspapers with their brows full of sweat acting like nothing happened. Something did happen. They have both lost their dignity. We are all judging them quietly and are secretly delighted that the out runner got the seat. I will never dive for a seat, my pride means more to me then 5 minutes of sitting down. People need to get a grip.
Side-Note - Not moving me: What is with perfectly agile young people avoiding there elder's eyes when they board the tube so they don't have to give up there seat? Who have a entire group of young guys all carefully keeping there eyes firming to there free newspaper while a old lady gets battered back and forth with the effort of holding the bars to high above her head. Raising the game entirely is when everyone avoids the very obviously pregnant lady. That to me is unacceptable. We all want a seat but guys, she is holding a second human in her uterus give the girl a seat. If she has a badge i will always offer. Or if is very obvious. If it is not so obvious it becomes difficult. You don’t want to accuse a lady who is carrying dinner weight of being pregnant, you would have to leave the tube immediately due to the horrible that would fill both of you and the fat lady eating her donuts.
So there you have it. That is my top ten list. We are all guilty of one or two here and there. If your number is more then 3 you need to start reassessing your life. If you are above 5. Please avoid transport. If you are above 7 please invest in a car, we do not want you on public transport. if you are 10. You know what to do.