Train Tactics

Like anything else that one is compelled to do repeatedly, while simultaneously being starved of cognitive sustenance (i.e. bored), riding public transport breeds odd little eccentricities and optimizations.

Many are about fares, tickets, routes, schedules, and other boring / commute-specific things, and as such constitute some of the most inherently boring-to-others thoughts it is physically possible to entertain.

Others are just Odd.

For instance:

  • The ten-kilo-backpack-head-check-and-swing, usually performed immediately upon alighting from one’s train/bus/tram, in order to minimise the knocking-off of one’s fellow passengers’ blocks.
  • The dubious-looking-seat-fondle, performed ever after that first time one sits in something unsavory on a train-seat, to assess if those black bits will potentially adhere to one’s pants, or if that long brown streak is dry and entrenched.
  • The lanky-kneecap-morris-dance, practised by any two people sitting opposite one another whose cumulative height is greater than 10’8″. I have observed variations on this dance where claustrophobia, religion, laptop computers, narcolepsy, large briefcases, toddlers, malice and alcohol have in their own ways enhanced this awkward ritual.
  • The ‘towers of Hanoi’ full-train-logistics-tango: when a train is standing-room-only, it is profoundly unlikely at any given time that all the people who are getting off at the next stop are nearest the doors. The only way around this is for everyone nearest the doors to get off, then for the people whose stop this isn’t to get back on. The awkwardness of this dance is enhanced greatly by passengers who both refuse to move to let others off and abuse those who are trying to get back on. Thank you folks. You know who you are.

But the best of all is probably:

  • The peak-hour-pole-dance, brought on by the knowledge of all those left standing that the train will soon be negotiating a set of points, and those not clutching a suitable upright or hand-grip will soon be performing an involuntary lap-dance for a stranger. Only so many total strangers can hang onto the one upright door-post, even if armpit odour isn’t taken into account.

With passtimes like these, I really can’t understand why more people don’t take the cheap, environmentally sound option that is our public transport system! Three cheers for Connex!

1 thought on “Train Tactics

  1. Re people with cumulative height over 10′8″, one aspect that may not be apparent is that close spacing of avoids the inadvertent flashing of strangers by persons wearing ridiculously short skirts. It’s a simple problem of trigonometry. Apparently that’s one of the differences between Korea and Japan – in Korea, the seats are too far apart, which can lead to embarrassment; Japanese trains are spaced closer, thus avoiding the problem.

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