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OBSERVATIONS OF A NOVICE COMMUTER

Life

OBSERVATIONS OF A NOVICE COMMUTER

KATIE HART

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I have spent the past couple of months observing commuters and to be honest, they’re all a bit like horses at the starting gate. London is essentially one bizarre and never-ending sprint from one place to another whilst maintaining as little contact with others as possible. I once said bless you on the train when a woman sneezed and you would have thought I'd cursed their elders from the looks they gave me. Looks of absolute wonderment and complete astonishment, transfixed by the fact that someone had uttered not only a single sound but that it was directed towards another person and sans malice. This is a seriously odd country, I mean you can drink beer, prosecco or liquor of any kind on trains here while the Gautrain won't even allow chewing gum. 

In regards to drinking on public transport, I always sort of frowned upon the very idea of having a drink on public transport and yet, when the old man across from my seat on the train who keeps shooting me unwarranted judgemental looks eventually leaves (hoping this happens sooner rather than later) I will inevitably open my pre-made G&T from M&S (Marks and Spencer - supermarket in case you didn't know) . The fact that they have cans of pre-mixed drinks of any sort available at the train station bemused me (still does a bit). I want to drink it as bluntly as the woman who was sitting behind me, asking someone at home to put the oven drank her prosecco. She just opened her miniature bottle of prosecco and literally (and I am NOT kidding here) poured it into a disposable champagne glass which she miraculously had in her handbag and sipped. I want to say it was weird but I kind of admire her for it. See, the thing is, it’s past eight in the evening already and I'm on a train still about 20 minutes from my destination. I had my bloody lunch at Pret at about 1h30 (to my stomach, it may as well have been last century). I’m hungry and tired and I understand. Actually, fuck it, if he’s not getting off at the next stop which I have a feeling is Kemsing, I'm opening it anyway because I want to and I kind of want to get his reaction. Also, after this train ride, I still have to walk through the town centre and then catch the bus. It's also cold here, did I mention that it's cold here? By the way, I was right and the next station was Kemsing. Also, shit…he’s still here! 

Anyway, back to commuters and their rather horse-like behavior. Instead of dangling a carrot in front of them, nobody even has to. It starts with the innate want that all humans have for stuff (and yes even you who's reading this thinking, I don't lust after stuff, I call bullshit on that). If we didn't want anything there would be absolutely no value to getting up every morning to go to work but we do. Like a horse and its carrot, we long for a better life and rewards (the guys getting up! Yeah G&T time) instead of dangling it though, our bosses know we want it. We actually somewhat willingly (by that I mean without actually being policed and forced to do so) get out of bed, shower, get dressed in clothes we work our asses off to pay for and then pay to get on a train to go to work. If most people were honest, and I actually like the job I do right now, they'd quit tomorrow if they won the lottery. 

By far the funniest and silliest thing I witness day to day on my commute is the evening past-time of all queuing up in front of the boards which display the train times, destinations and of course…the all-important platform number. People are literally standing there en mass, not talking, not moving and just staring blankly up at their board waiting for the all important information. This though is where the fun really starts. The second the platform is announced, it’s like horses at a starting gate. And they're off running towards the barriers with contactless cards, oyster cards and travel cards held aloft pushing each other out the way and racing to get through the barrier first. This is a weird thing to ‘win’ because it culminates in another waiting game…queing for the train. It's novel to say the very least. I’ve eventually opened earlier mentioned gin and tonic and it's strong. There may be a bottle of gin in here or maybe they forgot the tonic? Oh well, I’ll sleep well. Can’t very well be judgey of others anymore though can I?