It really is a jungle out there when it comes to commuting to, and from, work. Don’t be fooled by the glum faces you see in front of you, this will only lure you into a false sense of security. These people are not pacifists- they will turn on you in an instant, especially when it comes to actually getting on the tube/train/bus, or delays, …cancellations, hmmmmm… getting a seat- ok, well this could happen in many different scenarios, so beware.
Commuting definitely changes a man, and a woman, from being the most courteous person ever, to behaving like a ranting, raving beast!
The thing is, the commute into work on the first day back after the Christmas holidays was my most stress-free commuting experience, ever. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was so considerate and polite. Albeit, there were no school kids, so that was an added bonus. But what made it a pleasant journey was just how well mannered everyone was. And the fact that there weren’t any delays. I thought I had hit my head and died.
So as the bus, or tube, opened its doors, the conversation went something like this:
Commuter A: “After you.”
Commuter B: “No, after you, you were here first. I sincerely insist”.
Commuter A: “Don’t be silly. I implore you to go first, please, do me this great honour.”
And this conversation went on and on until someone gave in. The same thing happened with seats as well. Everyone was just all so congenial.
But on day two, Lord, on day two, there was so much aggression- I’m guessing it really was a shock to everyone’s system! Social pleasantries and niceties were thrown out of the window. I could feel myself getting tense, and I felt my blood pumping through my veins as my blood pressure started to rise. I screamed in my head: ‘MOOOOOVVVEEEEEE! I have somewhere to be- somewhere far more important than where you’re going,’ willing people to get out of my way.
Commuter A: “Get out of my way, I was here first, nincompoop!”
Commuter B: “Who are you calling nincompoop, you imbecile? I was here first, pal!”
Commuter A: “Youuu ARE NOT talking to me. Youuu CANNOT be talking to me!”
Commuter B: “You are rude!”
Commuter A: “No, YOU are rude!”
Commuter B: “Well, you are ruder!”
And on and on that conversation went until physical violence erupted, to the dismay, and amusement, of others.
Even if the phrase “excuse me” is used, it is usually said in such a harsh manner that the person who said it might as well just have spat on you and cursed you profusely.
A long, but not exhaustive list of problems, which can incite commuters to violence, include: signaling problems, power outages, cable theft, over crowding, line suspension, “person under a train”, fire alert, person sick on the train, activation of passenger alarm, a customer incident, leaves on the track, the wrong type of snow on the track, track being flooded, station evacuation, faulty train, late engineering work. All the while, when you hear these excuses on the tannoy system, you curse under your breath and you scream in your head: “But I just want to go home/I have to get to work on time!!!”
On my second day back after Christmas, I was making my merry way along the platform at Paddington station after work and was barged into the side of the train by an overgrown gorilla for not getting out of his way when I saw him coming, apparently. Fool. I’m guessing you can tell it still stings, ha, ha (nervous laughter). My pitiful retort to him fell on deaf ears as he marched away.
In fact, a couple of weeks ago I saw a full blown fight at Bank Station. A man in front of me pushed this lady in front of him to get on the train. I must add, she waited patiently for the passengers to get off the train instead of barging her way on, which is another pet hate of mine (something that really gets on my nerves, irritates me, gets my goat, makes me see red- are you getting the point of how much I hate it?)- she was courteous though, see?
So anyway, one man noticed that this lady had been shoved rather harshly and told the other man not to push a lady, and said in a strong Scottish accent: “We’re all getting on anyway, mate.” Though, to be fair, that last part wasn’t true. Typically at that part of the platform, the train would’ve left with that particular train carriage practically empty, because of how congested the platform gets.
They started arguing, with the other guy shouting in full bravado: “So, what? What you gonna do? What, bruv, what?”
I honestly don’t know who threw the first punch, it all happened so quickly. I was right behind them. I wanted to try and separate them somehow, possibly by pulling the London man’s rucksack. But thank goodness sense prevailed- have you seen how tiny I am? I would’ve been hit about like a rag doll, so I just stepped to the side, like everyone else.
They were really going for it. They were pulling each other’s clothes, the London guy’s Dr. Beat headphones fell on the floor- it was all very dramatic. The platform guard tried to stop them, he was a real big fella. But what really made them stop in their tracks was when a man came up to the carriage, dropped his duffle bag to the ground and shouted: “Transport police! Right. You two- off!! Now!!!”
I really felt sorry for the Scottish man, I’m not even sure if the woman whose honour he was fighting for was really all that bothered (she just wanted to get to work, right?). I think he’ll probably think twice about doing that again.
This type of spectacle rarely happens, I have to admit, but happens, it does.
Up until about a month ago, I had a train nemesis and she got. On. My. Last. Nerve. The woman got on and off at the same stations as me, going to and from work. My journeys were interesting, to say the least.
The woman would push her way through on to the tube to get a seat. So I turned it into a game and started using tactics of my own to slow her down so she wouldn’t succeed. Cow (sorry God).
It’s intriguing that people do actually develop tactics in these situations, whether consciously or unconsciously. Last year, someone even posted a tactical hand guide, which divulged all of his secrets on how to get a seat on the train, in particular, on the Overground trains. Since this commuting veteran had fought the good fight and was no longer travelling to work by train, he felt he was ready to share his expertise. (You have to click on the words to view the website. Just saying.)
So, my words of wisdom surrounding the matter are- well, I don’t have any really. I do want to find out about your experiences though, so hit me (not literally, enough with the violence now, we’re in civilian mode)!