Commuting blues

Wayfarer | 15 September 2008 | 7 Comments

It was Monday, today, and Mondays seem to be the second worse day to catch a train to work. Friday’s are the worst… too many GenX and GenY with headaches from Thursday-night pub-nights. Mondays, though, well, everyone seems depressed or cranky.

I have a 40 minute train journey from Wahroonga to Town Hall every day and if I don’t have some software to learn, or a project to do then I leave my laptop in the backpack and snooze on the way in. My iRiver has three playlists… walking, quiet and TOG casts.
Today two things happened that got my goat. The first I am a little ashamed of, but the second I giggled to myself. If only one had happened then I probably wouldn’t be writing this entry.

I set my iRiver to snooze mode, aka quiet, and got comfortable. In Paradisium from Faure’s requiem was first up. Sounds like angels singing, when in fact it’s the missus and 120 others in her choir. Anyway, I am usually subconsciously aware of what’s happening around me, except for last week when suddenly there were officials carrying a collapsed passenger from a few seats up from mine. I hadn’t realised that A. Someone had collapsed, B that someone had reported a sick passenger, C that the train had stopped, D that rail staff had come on-board and helped the poor lady out. But that was last week.

Today, however, I was vaguely aware of a person sitting down next to me. My station is one of the first so it fills up as we get closer to the city. The previously vacant seat now had a person sitting there. What felt less than a minute later she elbows me lightly in the ribs and says “Your aftershave is making me gag!” or words to the effect. I was brought round to bright consciousness pretty quickly but not quite sure what I had just heard.
I looked at her to make sure she was talking to me; she sure was; she had this angry face on her.
Now, I don’t use too much aftershave, and had used the regular amount this morning, on account, like most husbands, SWMBO buys the most expensive aftershave in this household thinking it’s better than the cheapest. The way things work I can’t argue as I’ve never had the chance to buy cheap aftershave since I was single and my fiancée threw it out. So, I hardly use any to make it last.

She looked at me in furyI looked at her in amazement.
She looked at me in fury mixed with a questioning look on her face that clearly asked “What are you going to do about it?”. I was aware of people looking up to see the commotion. I must have looked much like a stunned mullet. There was a lot of looking.

I know people have allergies and I can appreciate the discomfort, even SWMBO is not allowed to wear perfume when in her choir so I am a little on the defensive side. But I am on a public train, sitting by myself, with scant amount of aftershave on anyway and here she is embarrassing me in front of the other passengers.
Bad move.
In my clearest… just woken up voice… I reply “I’m sorry about that, but your rudeness is equally breathtaking!”
The expression on her face was worth a million quid, and by the sounds of gwarfs behind us others thought so too. Instead of retreating, and these sorts of people don’t retreat easily, she started on me about how inconsiderate I was wearing perfume and how it’s affecting her and how evil I am etc all of which she managed to impart with very few words and so quickly that I can’t, now, remember exactly what she said, but I’d had enough. I looked her up and down and said “You seem as ugly on the inside as you do on the outside and while you don’t like my perfume at least I can wash it off” and with that I put my earphones back in and went into my snooze zone.
The chuckles from behind, and the seemingly fruitless argument made her sit there for a few moments huffing and puffing before finally getting up and leaving.

I could have been nice to her, but it was Monday morning.

getting a seat can be bit of a blood sportThe second incident happened on the way home. Normally I work late on Mondays, but not today. I caught the peak-hour train home, shuffled downstairs and found a seat. Converse to mornings, afternoon peak trains are full straight away and empty out after they leave the city so getting a seat can be bit of a blood sport; especially from middle aged ladies with bags and elbows and heads down like footballers in a scrum.
Well, this afternoon the two-seater I am gunning for has a twenty something guy sitting in the middle with a bag next to him. He clearly has a “not sharing” attitude. There’s no choice for me but to plonk down beside him. I noticed first off that he was faking sleep. No one can have their legs that far apart, sit in the middle of the seat and balance upright at the same time. So, like I said, I slid in beside him, so little room that he’s pushed over a little.


The inside of a typical Sydney Tangara Carriage

He grunts.
I huff.
I find myself sitting with hunched-shoulders and leaning forward because he won’t give me my half of the seat. I’m squeezed in. I not a big guy, and nor is he… there’s plenty of room. I look at him with my best “you’ve got to be kidding me” look but he’s “sound asleep”. I try reading the paper, but it’s no good, I am not comfortable and he’s not budging. It’s not half obvious he’s pushing back against me to keep his space.
I am too bothered about more important things than this drongo so I pick out the only other seat in sight and move before the next station. Wynyard station is probably the busiest city station in Sydney, and if you’re not seated by then, then you stand much of the way home.
We stopped, a huge woman gets on and ploughs into his space. She’d almost bolted down the stairs to grab what was one of the only remaining seats. She had no intention of standing and no intention of worrying about this squirt taking up more than his share of real estate. The poor little fellow almost popped out of the seat! His bag was crushed against the wall, and his legs slammed together, he’s squeezed upright and wide awake.
I caught his eye and I smiled that self satisfactory smile that says “sucks be to you, loser!” and chuckled to myself. Goodness it was funny.

Surely there are TOGs who have this much fun commuting?

7 Comments so far | Post a comment

Are the comments not working?  I posted a nice long story and it is not here now!

Me sad =(

Okay, they ARE working...is there a size limit then?  I think my story was almost as long as Way’s was. =P

I see not a lot has changed in your day to day Way :)
Nice story bro.

soz to c u so lonely Wya, I thought I’d add 2c worth, but from Sleepy Hobart, where I ride my Motorbike because I can, and get free parking right outside the GPO, I don’t know why you guys do it to yourselves, living in Syd/Melb/Bris

I thought Hobart was to big and Moved around 20min’s out of town, No we are semi rural.  A long commute here is 1/2 hour most travel around 15min.

Ohh well good to see Karma works though

This didn’t happen to me, but a friend of mine:

He was sitting on the bus and this rather large woman sits next to him, and is nudging him and shifting and pushing and after a while of this gets up and says “Look, I can’t handle sitting like this, here, you take the whole seat”.

Gracious in deeds if not in words.

Well, this woman was one of those sorts I imagine take offense to everything, and she got really angry and shouted “Are you calling me fat!?”

He replied calmly, “Are you saying you’re not?” and walked away.

Attempt again to leave a story...(I will make it a bit shorter this time)

I was stuck on a 10 hour layover in Las Angelas on my way to Sydney from Vancouver and I thought that I would have a quick trip someplace to kill a few hours. 

After wandering around the prison that is LAX (the place is a dump), I finally found an info booth, discovered that Santa Monica would be a good place to visit since there was enough time and got info as to where the buses were.

I found the buses, and sat in the seat that faces the back door.  Another guy about my size (I have broad shoulders) sat beside me, leaving about 10cm between us.  As usual in a bus, we didn’t say anything to each other, and just sat out the ride.

About half way along the ride, the bus stopped for a bit longer than usual, then lowered itself down to make it easier for the person getting on.  I figured it was going to be a senior, or someone on crutches, but no.  It was one of the largest men that I have ever seen walking.  I weigh in a bit under 100kg, but this guy was easily 200+!

A quick glance around the bus showed no seats available, and the guy beside me and I looked at each other and quickly tried to make ourselves look bigger.  The large man wobbled and lurched his way towards the back, looking for his prey.

Just as he got to us, he was looking past us, no really showing much interest.  This was our fatal mistake.  Before we knew it, he flopped down into that little 10cm space between us, slamming both myself and my fellow seat sharer apart.

Now, we were pinned.  This man was sitting on both of us, neither of us able to get up, move or even speak.  I was squished hard into the little wall between me and the seats behind me, as I am sure my seat partner was likely squished.

After a few seconds of trying to wriggle into comfort or escape, I noticed that this man was seating a lot, as large people do.  First it was that stale sweat smell, so I tried to hold my breath...then it got even worse.

His sweat was soaking through my clothing.

I heard the other fellow who was being squashed ask the guy to get up, he completely ignored him.  I was having terrible thoughts of wearing this sweat soaked shirt all the way to Sydney, while gagging on his body odor.  I tried to ask him to move, but was ignored as well.

Suddenly, he rings the bell, stands up and leaves without even a look or appology to myself and the other fellow.  I swear that the entire bus made a collective sigh for his departure.

This might be the reason that I dispise public transport these days.  I rather walk an hour than catch a bus for 10 minutes.  I have a lot of respect for those who put up with stuff like this daily.

Isn’t it wonderful when Karma comes and bites someone fair square on their arse when you’re still there to see it?

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