Category: commuting


Getting out of bed at this time of year is a real struggle. No matter how many times you press that snooze button, again and again, you. Just. Can’t. Get. Up!! You would rather hibernate in your bed until spring than venture out into the darkness on a perilous journey through the blistering winds, in the cold and the rain, to get to work.

Well, at least the Christmas holidays are coming up very soon, but not soon enough. You’re anxiously counting down the days where you can finally eat, drink, be merry and sleeeeeep!!!

But until then you’re tired, and when you’re tired you do stupid things.  Very stupid things. In fact, I don’t even think it’s because the days are darker. For some reason these days, I don’t know – maybe I’m getting ‘old’, but I just feel so tired. Like, ridiculously tired – stupidly tired. I do the most stupidest things, ever.

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“I must be overtired’, Buttercup managed. ‘The excitement and all.’ ‘Rest then’, her mother cautioned. ‘Terrible things can happen when you’re overtired. I was overtired the night your father proposed.” ― William Goldman, The Princess Bride 

As I’m yearning for my bed right at this minute, I’m writing this post to highlight how dangerous (to your dignity) tiredness can be when you’re doing the most mundane and automatic tasks.

So in no particular order, here’s a selection of stupid things people have done as a result of fatigue. Ok, maybe this was mainly myself. Have you ever:

1. Used your Oyster card as a key fob to enter your work building?

2. Used your mobile phone as an Oyster card at a tube station?

3. Slurred your words on the phone so badly that the receptionist asked how you were feeling? You said fine, and then out of politeness asked them the same question. They replied that they were better than you…

4. Used a fork as a spoon to eat your cereal?

5. Sent the wrong cover letter for a job application?

6. Forgotten to send a CV with your cover letter?

7. Attempted to put a tub of butter into the cutlery draw?

8. Used hair lotion as body cream?

9. Used hair lotion as face cream?

10. Poured lemon juice into your cup of hot chocolate powder?

11. Attempted to pour cold water into your powdered porridge instead of the hot water that is needed to make it?

12. Searched high and low for your glasses only to find that they are already on your face?

13. Opened the dishwasher to put butter in it?

14. Called someone you know very well by a completely different name and prayed to God that they didn’t hear you?

15. Had a conversation with the wrong person? This is something that can easily happen on something like WhatsApp for instance, especially if they share the same name, i.e. Michelle.

16. Attempted to use nail varnish remover as a facial toner?

17. Made a whole bowl of couscous for breakfast when in actual fact you wanted porridge?

18. Ran into a large mirror as soon as you woke up because you heard a knock at the door, but you woke up in such a panic that you thought the mirror was another door?

19. Desecrated the English language with sentences like: “She took too slow”?

20. Spent half an hour looking for clothes you were already wearing?

21. Woken up suddenly on a train and realised to your horror that you were halfway through a conversation you were having with yourself out loud? As the only people around you were sitting right in front of you, you decided to pretend to be on your phone and tried your very best to carry on with the conversation that you didn’t particularly remember the details of…

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Remember, tiredness kills, or it at least makes you do stupid things. Rest well, or if you can’t do that then you can purchase a walking sleeping bag like my friend below. Feel free to share your tired/stupid stories. Sharing is caring and all that malarkey. Peace.

sleep-walking-bag

Tis the season…

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting darker and shorter. The temperature noticeably drops, and you are desperately trying to defend yourself against the common cold. But it soon dawns on you that you’re fighting a losing battle.

Your nose starts to tickle you, ever so slightly. That slight irritation in your throat suddenly morphs into a diabolical brute of a thing living at the back of your throat, which thrives off causing you as much pain as possible just for its own pleasure. Nasal fluid starts to trickle down your nostrils and as the flow becomes heavier, you sniff and swallow often to try and force back those tides. You long for that person to kiss your throat better in the back of a black cab, just like in that old cough sweet advert.

It’s at this point where you overdose on vitamin C tablets (fruit for the those who are more health conscious) or on legalised drugs you can buy over the counter, and this works for a while.

Your problem, however, is other people and the germs that they are carrying and spreading around. At work, on the tube, on the bus and even in your own home you’re surrounded by symphony of coughs, sneezes, and sniffles. Hoarse coughs, high-pitched sneezes, stifled coughs, resonating sneezes, mucus-filled coughs, ‘barking’ coughs- You. Are. Under. Attack!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I am sympathetic towards people who are ill. I was that sickly, frail person at university, who was susceptible to all sorts of illnesses, until working on the streets as a ‘chugger’ (aka charity mugger, aka charity fundraiser) toughened me.

As I write this, a lady on my left is trying to hold back her coughs, but by doing this she’s only making her cough worse. It’s so bad, in fact, that a stranger to her right is now offering her some kind of cough sweet, which is a nice gesture.

What I’m annoyed about are people who sneeze into their hands or just cough out loud and then touch the rails that you need to hold on to, or touch the buttons that you need to press. Stop it- I don’t want what you’ve got, thanks!

This is what I see every single time someone does that:

You are infecting me with your germs. ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ is more than a set of dance moves (and why that even came out in the first place, God only knows). Just do the thing that the NHS campaign is getting you to do. In fact, for a lesson on how to sneeze into a tissue, watch this:

So anyway, it is during this bleak time of the year when my hand sanitizer is my strength and my shield, but it does have its limitations.

One particular incident, which I would like to share with you, concerned me walking through the tunnel at Bank station to get the Central line. As I walked, the person in front of me sneezed the most dirtiest, wettest, spit-filled sneeze ever with their mouth wide open. I couldn’t stop myself in time, so I had to walk into that cloud of mess. I’m really not sure what’s worse, walking into someone’s sneeze, or walking into someone’s fart as you’re walking up the stairs. Both rate pretty high on my list of unpleasant/deeply disturbing experiences.

What also bugs me are the people who pick their nose, blatantly in front of everyone like it’s nobody’s business, as if they’re digging for gold. And they’re not fazed that you’re glaring at them to get them to stop. Nasty. (I do recognise that this point has nothing to do with someone having a cold, but I just had to publicly get that off my chest.)

Please, if you’re an offender to the crimes I’ve just outlined, just be a bit more considerate and stop these vile actions for humanity’s sake. Thank you.

Assume battle positions!

                                                                                         

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!

(I am in no way, shape, or form telling you to buy AXA insurance)

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)!

“Never fear, I am HE!”

You know those times on the tube when step on to the platform and you see your train is still there, with the doors wide open, beckoning you inside.

Then you see the timetable screens ‘flashing mind the doors’ and you hear the bleeping noise signalling that the doors are about to close.

You panic.

Do I risk limb and life to get on that train? Do I feel lucky? Am I a punk? Will I get hurt? Or will I just get humiliated and pretend like I didn’t want to get that train anyway?

I’m sure us commuters have had this discussion with ourselves before, as you do.

But this guy, this brave, brave soul, wasn’t afraid of the rejection.

He wasn’t even fazed by the potential pain. He casually strolled up to the doors as it bleeped.

“Stay away,” it warned, “stay away!”

But just as the doors began to close, the guy seemed to switch into super-human mode. He seemed to say to himself in a deep voice: “I… have… the… power!!!” And he used his bare hands to try and hold the doors open.

There was a gasp.

“Will the mighty doors crush him?” were the words from everyone’s lips. Well, at least that’s what the looks on their faces said.

They (and me, obviously) looked on in total awe as the man in a white T-shirt with bulging muscles (well, sort of) pushed those doors back and strolled on, effortlessly.

My hero.

I’m guessing it was a ‘you-had to-be-there’ moment. Whilst tired.

Well, I need to keep myself entertained somehow on my commute to and from work. Fun times.

How to break the ice on the tube

This is by no means an extensive list. In fact, it’s not even a list at all, it’s just something I witnessed recently.

So, there I was listening to an Englishman and a French woman flirt on my iPhone when a young lady stepped onto the train cradling sort of white small dog in her arms.

It was nothing to write home about, so I dismissed what I saw and carried on listening to the ‘I would like’ chapter of my French app.

With nothing else to look at on my journey, my eyes rested on the dog.

“But wheeeyyyyyytttt,” I thought, as said by my mum in her Jamaican accent [translation: but wait, hold on a minute]. “That dog has massive ears!”

Then I noticed the whiskers, and low and behold, it was actually a white rabbit with grey spots- on an orange LEASH with yellow flowers!

A leash- by Jove, that woman actually walks that thing!

Is it a fast hopper? Does it go in the direction she wants it to go in? Does it listen to commands? Can it do tricks? Would it poo in her arms at any minute?

These questions rapidly raced through my mind, and, I’m sure, the minds of my fellow passengers on the packed central line train.

People’s reactions to the rabbit were even more interesting to watch though, because, you know, it wasn’t really moving around or anything.

Some pretended not to notice- as if they’ve seen that all before or they shouldn’t be entertaining such behaviour. “I’m too sophisticated to notice such folly, yesss,” they faces seemed to say.

One woman looked on with disgust, which was understandable because if Roger (yes Roger, even though it was a female) pooed or farted, then she would be in the firing line. So she moved to the other side of the carriage.

But most people pointed and actually smiled! And it sparked a full blown conversation between two strangers! Mind you, the discussion wasn’t about feasible solutions on how to end world poverty, but it was something meaningful nonetheless.

It got me thinking. Does it really take something as peculiar as a rabbit on a leash to get a few people to loosen up and be friendly on a daily commute? Maybe I should invest in a penguin.

When the lady got off the train, I must admit, I strained my neck to try and catch a glimpse of the rabbit hopping along the platform. Alas, it did not happen.

The whole scenario did lift my spirits though. Then as I exited the station to go home I was greeted by Batman and Robin giving out Fitness First flyers. Fun times.