A slightly ranty, although much more lighthearted than the previous one, post.
As you may be aware, a few months ago I left my employment. Well, when I say I left, it was more like being shoved out of the door (the big ‘R’), but it all amounts to the same thing: I am now self-employed. As such, I am mostly based from home and, luckily, have little need to make the horrendous, early-morning commute into the City/Central London.
The other morning, however, I had great need to make this journey. The other morning, I rose at 7am, got washed, got dressed and left my house for the train station before 8am. The other morning, you see, the other morning, I was attending a business storytelling masterclass run by Francesco Dimitri at The School of Life. Francesco is an Italian, magic realist author (don’t ask me what that means, cos I don’t have a clue). He’s also a funny guy who knows how to tell a good story. The School of Life (what a fantastic name, btw) is devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture. It’s a very cool place and I would highly recommend having a wander through it’s website as there are some interesting sessions coming up (not least “Katie Price and Philosophy” on 18 November). It is, however, in Russell Square, WC1N. That’s Central London, to the uninitiated.
So, I started my journey from the North of the city into the centre via train and tube and remembered, very quickly, all of the things I hated about having to commute in to work.
Here are just a few of those things.
Forgetting to Layer
Mainly a cold-weather issue. I should have heeded the layering warnings given by the ladies of instagram. But, being so used to hanging around the school playground in the cold mornings, hopping from foot to foot to try to keep warm, I forgot the importance of the ability to derobe on a packed commuter train. I wore a thick, wooly jumper with an old t-shirt (not for public consumption) underneath and a thick wool coat on top. Idiot. Fundamental error in wardrobe choice resulted in one sweaty mama.
Fluffy Pom-Pom Beanies
Ladies, I understand that this is a trend and I like a fluffy pom-pom, I really do. But, PLEASE – I implore you – once you are safely on whatever your chosen mode of public transport, please remove them! An incredibly irritating female insisted on leaving her hat on today. The pom pom was very fluffy and very large. It tickled my nose everytime she moved. She was short. While I am here, I must mention the high ponytail, although this is a usually a Summertime offence. It is on par with the fluffy pop-pom beanie and an immediate smoking-type ban ought to be applied, IMHO.
“Agg” aka Aggravation
Literally, as soon as the train arrived at the platform, someone moved in front of someone else and may have reduced their chances of acquiring a seat by approximately 0.35%. What ensued next was too blue even for me to repeat. The angered party was trying to garner support from other passengers, attempting eye contact with whoever was foolish enough not to pretend to be looking anywhere else. Meanwhile, all eyes were averted cos ain’t nobody got time for that. Tension was high. These women were nicely dressed and well coiffured. Nevertheless, they felt it appropriate to begin a Jerry Springer-style, verbal bitch fight at around 8.10am on a train platform in North London suburbia.
Failure to move down the aisle
No matter how many posters TFL puts up, there are some people who will make a point of ABSOLUTELY NOT moving down the aisle. These are usually the same people who have their headphones plugged firmly in their earholes, and perhaps the same people who are having a really loud telephone conversation about something super-private that they think no-one else can hear. These people do not respond to death stares. Nor do they respond to “excuse me”s. In fact, at the merest “ex-” of an “excuse me”, they usually adopt one of three possible courses of action: become super-ignorant, become ultra-stubborn, become deaf. Clearly accustomed to large, open spaces, these people should be transported individually in cattle cars, where they can enjoy as much space as they like to do nothing with, strictly between the hours of 4 and 4.45am.
Why do people feel it is acceptable to hold and read a book no more than 2 cm away from my face? And then, when I explain that a page of their book is on the verge of cutting through my skin, think it is acceptable to roll their eyes? Look, I love reading – I really do. And I understand that sometimes the plot is way too compelling. But, surely, one must balance the need to read with the need not to lacerate a fellow commuter’s eyeball?
Crossing Legs with Limited Space
She may have been mocked on social media, but this lady right here is a modern day hero. See how neatly she tucks her legs away? Perfection! Anywho, picture this: I have been standing on the train for a substantial part of my journey. Finally, some random gets up and I am lucky enough to secure a seat. It’s one of those 4-seater sections, where the knees of strangers often inadvertently touch. Three passengers are already seated. One of the three has her legs crossed (not like this kind lady in the photo), thereby making it impossible for me to join them all for a little sit down without getting her shoe-dust all over my jeans or having to manoeuvre into the most awkward of spaces, while on a moving train.
Unnecessary (and sometimes inappropriate) Touching
Where else would it be acceptable to nonchalantly press your body firmly into the back of a perfect stranger…at 8.23am in the morning…in public?
So, as stated above, these are just some of my reasons for avoiding the morning commute for a little while. I may bore you with the other reasons another time…unless, of course, you can guess them first…