By Adam Hill
This year I returned to university, which has meant that I have had to spend a lot of horrifyingly unpleasant hours travelling into the city by train.
Besides the occasional trip into the footy this is something that I have been able to steer clear of for a number of years. It has been an eye-opening experience for me.
While the train rides are a mainly unpleasant experience there is some enjoyment that can be had by observing what is happening around you. Every train ride into the city gives me something to think about, laugh at or shake my head in disgust at.
I have come to the realisation that there are a number of different types of people that catch the train every day. It is these people that make the time fly by when the battery in my iPod has died.
These people are easy to spot. Usually walking onto the carriage with their headphones around the neck because the noise level of the music they are playing is so loud that their eardrums would burst instantaneously if the headphones were anywhere near their own ears. Unfortunately the majority of these people are blasting the carriage with sounds that should not even be considered music; over produced electronic crap or truly inappropriate rap songs about sex, drugs and/ or violence which leave small children asking far too many questions to their disapproving parents.
This is not necessarily a man named Johnny. Man or woman, this can be one of the most uncomfortable train passengers to ever share a carriage with. Usually seen with a murderous glint in their eye, this person can be found starting at some poor unsuspecting passenger who spends their entire train ride trying to avoid eye contact but constantly looking back to make sure that this ultra-creepy person has stopped looking; which they never have. It is hard to tell if this kind of passenger is even human, as they never seem to blink but somehow still manage to avoid their eyes completely drying out. And, yes, that’s right, they will be getting off on the last stop of the line just to ensure that they can freak out as many people as possible.
The Shrieking Banshee
I do not like stereotyping by gender butwhile this is also something that male passengers can be found guilty of, it is more predominant in young females.
Do you ever get that feeling that, ‘maybe I shouldn’t be listening to this’, but the people that you are inadvertently listening to are speaking so loud that to not listen would require you to be deaf. And the only reason that you can possibly follow the conversation is due to the fact that the subject matter is so inappropriate and personal that it seems as though they are inviting you to listen to their idiotic high-volume conversation?
Well, on the train this seems to be a current occurrence. Sometimes, I even attempt to turn my iPod up to drown out the conversation but this still doesn’t seem to work.
You really have to wonder about some people. I would think that the average person would consider talking about sexual exploits, how many guys (or girls) you have been with, your period, how much money you are carrying on you, or how you managed to stealsomething from work were not topics that you should be discussing on a public train at full volume. But, hey, maybe I am in the minority.
These are the people who get on the train early in the morning or after a long day at work and simply nod off. This always leaves me in the awkward position of wondering, ‘should I wake them up before they miss their stop. Or, will they get angry that I have deprived them of more sleep’, unfortunately I always opt out, viewing this as a winless situation for me. Perhaps this person’s body clock is so well trained that they will wake up without fail before they miss their stop.
Usually, however this person can be found further down the line being jolted awake as the train goes over a bump and frantically checking their watch and running to see how many stations ago their stop was. The most amusing moment is if they’re sitting next to someone who they obviously have no connection to and start to slump against the uncomfortable stranger sitting next to them as they fall deeper into their slumber.
This is that person who always gets on the train at one of the early stops on the line, during the busier periods of the day, while the carriage is near empty but insist on sitting on the aisle seat. This manoeuvre is designed to ensure that they will get an entire seat to themselves for the rest of the train ride because most people are too polite to ask them to move, or rub up against them to get into the spare seat. You can often find some poor passenger standing near them contemplating whether or not to ask them to move but never going through with it. This type of passenger is not amusing, just annoying and inconsiderate. It is common courtesy to move over and leave the aisle seat free so that people do not have to ask you to move later. So if you get onto an empty carriage… MOVE THE HELL OVER! And even if you don’t, when you see the carriage filling and that you have forced someone to stand. Slide your arse across and give them the option of filling the spare seat. You may still find that they don’t want to sit next to a prick of a human being.
These are the parents who obviously cannot control their own children and a) allow them run riot throughout the carriage annoying everyone around them without the slightest hint that mum or dad are ever going to attempt to stop the chaos, or b) have left it until the train ride to get their child ready for wherever they are going. Both of these result in a screaming child but the latter is simply ludicrous. If your child is not dressed yet, or you have not done their hair because they will not stay still because they seem to compare having their hair brushed to getting shot then DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE. Get them dressed and ready before you leave. I, and I assume most others; do not need to see you be bested by a 4 year old while you both scream at each other making the rest of us uncomfortable. Children need to be trained, so when they act up, take control and punish the little buggers.
The prepubescent petri dish.
These are children who are allowed to crawl around on, lie on, or sit on the floor of the train carriage. There are so many problems with allowing this that I do not know where to begin…. The train is a place that constantly goes over bumps and occasionally does need to come to a sudden stop. So for one thing this is extremely unsafe but worse than that it is extremely unhealthy. Do not ask me how I know this, but be assured that I am not, nor ever will be the culprit, but I can tell you that it is a fact that people piss on, vomit on and worse on that same floor that you’re allowing you’re child to lie/ crawl all over. So please, have some common sense and if they look like they’re going to lie down, go ballistic at them! It will be for their own good.
The Early Afternoon Drunk
Ah, I love finishing work early: but not as much as the early afternoon drunk. Often sporting a brown paper bag or cracking open a can of beer the moment they get onto the train it becomes apparent that this person has a had a few to many for 2pm in the afternoon on a Wednesday. Nevertheless, they are here and you should try enjoying this if you can. One of three things is about to happen:
1. They are going to fall asleep. Most likely causing them to drop their drink as you watch it spill and roll down the carriage.
2. Someone is going to report them to the ticket inspector on the carriage that will then go and ask them a few questions. The EAD is usually sharp enough to hide their drink in this instant. But this never fools anyone. Some of the conversations between the inspector and the drunk are simply hilarious. Seriously, if you have a pen and paper, write that shit down it might be comedic gold!
3. The drunk will rant and rave at some poor unsuspecting train passenger over the slightest indiscretion. ‘Are you yawning at me? ARE YOU YAWNING AT ME? Oooh look at that boring man? I’m going to yawn at him! Honestly, this is an example that I have seen. Slightly paraphrased but that is what the man got angry about.
I could not think of a clever name for this guy, so I named them Steve. Steve is the cyclist who comes onto the train through on door and then walks his or her bike all the way to the other end of the carriage bashing and crashing into everything that they pass on the way. And then takes far too long to get their bike secured while other passengers try to get on and off the train.
I know, I know…. I have only taken a look at the negative. Yes, there are nice passengers, polite passengers, and even normal passenger that are simply left to witness all of this madness. But that just wouldn’t be as interesting. So, next time you’re on the train, take a moment to have a look around and see how many of these people can be found on your carriage. If it is zero, enjoy the peaceful ride, otherwise settle in and enjoy the ride as best you can. And, I promise, I will find something positive to write about soon!