Archive for September, 2010

Commuter love – #5

No one wants to sit beside me today. Not that any one ever wants to sit beside anybody on the train, it’s more the sacrifice that has to be made just to get the weight off their feet.

But I feel it more today. Because I’m one of those guilt ridden souls that feels the need to keep the seat next to me as open as possible, moving bags and coats out of the way so that people can feel free to sit down with minimal embarrassment.

So people see me as the easy option to sit beside.

But not today. I imagine it’s the repeated mucousy noises emitted from my upper airways. No one wants to get a puffy eyed, flowing mucous disease for a few days. I imagine back when we had real coughing diseases like TB that they were ostracized in a similar way.

Wow I just compared having the cold to TB. That’s a new narcissistic high/low for me.

Living is a problem because everything dies

Only medical journals like the BMJ (British Medical Journal) would have an obituary section where certified cause of death is included along with when they were born and when they qualified.

Only people like me skim the obituaries looking only at what other doctors die from.

I was pleasantly surprised to find “Dr So and So died peacefully in his sleep…”

Commuter love – #4

The metro herald is about my only exposure to popular culture these days (he says with gross exaggeration). Newstalk keeps me about as informed as Newstalk can. The lack of a tv or a spouse interested in such things means I’m somewhat out of the loop as to which of the beautiful people are sleeping with who.

I always get an immensely friendly greeting from the girl handing them out in her shiny yellow jacket at the top of the road.

And if my greatest fear ever comes about – finding myself on a train for 45 minutes with nothing to occupy my mind apart from my own thoughts or even worse engaging in contact with my fellow human beings – then at least I’ll be guaranteed to find one stuffed in the folding tray table on the 0936 after rush hour.

Commuter love – #3

I always feel like I’m approaching some kind of epiphany when I’m on the train.

As if the sleepy, hungover crowds of humanity surrounding me are leading me into some kind of deeper understanding of the unbearable lightness of being a pretentious twat… Or something like that.

I heard Keller preach about how people talk about the sacrifice it takes to pursue a ministry in the city where you’re surrounded by concrete and lots of horrible ignorant people and ways of life. He declares that all that is nonsense because in the cities we find ourselves surrounded by the most beautiful part of all god’s creation – human beings.

Since hearing that I find myself watching people on the train with slightly less of the pictured attitude and more thinking about the jokes they tell and the parent that loved them and the child that adores them and all the happiness and joy that surrounds their lives. No doubt there’s plenty of pain and misery and regrets in there but even that makes them more human than anonymous commuting will.

[Picture Via XKCD (of course)]

Commuter love – #2

If you stand in the same place at the same time often enough on regular occaisons you start noticing other people doing the same thing.

Other people for whom the regular occupancy of this piece of platform at this time is a long repeated pattern.

You get to know their faces and dress codes. You get to thinking about what they do that has them there everyday.

I notice their books. I notice the progress they make and I try to judge whether they only read the book while commuting or if it makes it to bed with them each night before they fall asleep.

If this was a party of a friend you’d go up to them and say frendly ice breaking things like “how do you know so” and “what do you do with yourself most of the time.”

But you don’t do that in railway stations. The only reason people do that is to distract them while someone steals something out of their bag. Either that or you must be attracted to them and you’re making some kind of move.

We’re deeply uncomfortable with ‘idle’ chat. I know I am. As much as I’d like not to be.

I think it must be some hangover from stranger danger mantra that was drummed into me at a young age.

If I get over myself I’ll just go up to them and say “well what did you think of the book?”

Commuter Love – # 1

People who do this do it not quite for a living but it is part of what they do. They know the train timetables inside out.

They know that to get a seat on 1638 you need to be standing along the yellow line when the 1635 arrives.

That way when the 1638 arrives you’re in a prime spot. You can look at people’s faces and watch as they calculate the rate of deceleration as the train pulls into the station. Each person making tiny adjustments to their position to give them the best chance of being in front of the sliding doors when the train stops.

There’s a surge forward as the doors open, terrifying the daunted commuters trying to dismount the carriage. A few kind souls make way for the dismounting passengers but positionally this is a fatal move. The scrum invades the carriage and these poor kindly folk will be standing the whole journey.

Inside the carriage swords are drawn, ears are cut off and tiny gasps of victory and dissappointment are heard as the cushioned bounty is snapped up.

Papers are opened iPods are turned up in volume and some seem to be asleep even before the doors have closed

The rest of us poor sods content ourselves with findingthe best pole to lean against while some venture to stand along side the priviledge seaters in case one gets off at an early stop and they can claim their seat.

Just before the doors close there’s the frantic arrival of those guys who always leave it to the last minute. Like indiana jones they turn back at the last minute to tuck the end of their scarf between the closing doors.

They look around for admiration and only find subdued boredom and they realise that arriving sweaty to a tin can of soon to be sweaty humans is bad form.

I shift from foot to foot and open my book.

God damn it, you’ve got to be kind

… sprinkle some water on the babies, say, hello babies. Welcome to earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies you’ve got a bout a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of babies:
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.


September 2010