Other people are weird, but I’m probably weirder. I’m always complaining about people around me behaving peculiarly and being peculiar while I’m on public transport. An old man with bright pink hair and a Burberry hat. A woman who ate three bags of crisps, one after the other, and then delved into her pocket and brought out a pile of around 30 train tickets. A youth sat opposite trying to play footsie with me. Weird things I have done recently on trains include moving seats three times within the space of an hour for no discernible reason, craning my neck round in an attempt to watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory playing on someone’s laptop across the carriage from me, and getting such a restless leg while listening to music that the only thing I could do was stomp my foot on the floor. It’s easy to label someone a weirdo, and to be labelled as one, when trapped in a small space for a limited amount of time. Something I need to work on, in life as well as on trains, is not to jump to conclusions about people.
Personal space is important, but overrated. ‘Sir, there is no need for you to park yourself in the empty seat next to mine when almost the entire carriage is empty.’ This is the inner monologue that runs through my head time and time again on trains. One day I may accidentally be rude enough to speak the words out loud. I often wonder if the people who decide to cram themselves next to others when there is an array of uninhabited seats around them are doing it because they are starved of human contact. If this is the case, I feel infinitely sorry for these people – but that is no reason for them to attempt to satiate their physical hunger in my company. (Ew.) There is, of course, a flip-side to this coin. There are the rush hour trains, when I feel like the entire population of Northern England are attempting to board one train. This is the time to give up on the concept of keeping your personal space intact. As long as nobody is molesting you and you’re not in too much pain, you’re just going to have to grin and bear it – or wait for another train. This is when the inner monologue runs more along the lines of, ‘You there! Glaring at me and pushing me further into the wall. You’re not the only one finding this situation uncomfortable, OK?!’
Bringing your own food from home might make you look like a loser – but it’s cheaper and less disgusting. Yeah, that’s right. I’m 21 years old and I sometimes take a packed lunch on the train. While I was at university I often took a packed lunch to lectures or the library. I would rather get a few funny looks than fork out my precious money on a sandwich that is around 80% mayonnaise and 15% soggy white bread with some sad, soggy meat and lettuce thrown in. Taking a packed lunch when you are a grown up (or at least appear like one to the untrained eye) is a lesson in two things: forward planning, and coping with looking like a bit of an idiot. It is also, to a lesser extent, a lesson in not wasting money when there’s no need to.
What lessons have you learned from trains/buses/planes/any other public transport?
Would you like me to share more of the lessons that I have learned? Not that I think I’m particularly wise, but this post was very enjoyable to write.