I’m back. Life got in the way.
Commuter hell – I’m obsessed with it. We’re all crammed into these little cans and we all hate each other. On Monday morning, around 8am, as the train pulled away from Harringey, I heard a scream. I turned off whatever questionable Britpop album I was listening to (probably Salad) and turned around with morbid curiosity. A fat lady in a polka dot dress – a part-time burlesque dancer, I guess, you know the type – had tripped as she ran onto the train and split a scaling pint of Café Nero Latte over some poor woman in a suit (looked like Asos own brand – ill-fitting and child laboured).
Asos sat in her seat crying while Polka Dots mumbled an apology. We all looked on thinking Thank fuck it wasn’t me.
On Wednesday, I saw a woman punch a teenage girl in the eye. 8.25am, Palmers Green. ‘You coughed in my ear’ was the meagre excuse the assailant snapped. I noticed she used her diamond-laden wedding ring hand to throw the punch. That rock must’ve done some damage and I got thinking that maybe the desire for a large rock is for want of a weapon rather than a proclamation of the financial status of a lady’s spouse. A guy I know has a girlfriend who said she wouldn’t accept anything less than a £10k engagement ring. She must have a fair few enemies, I thought. So I told him to buy her a cubic zirconia and tell her it cost ten grand. Everyone wins. He said she’d get it verified. Young love, eh?
Anyway, travel. I’m no advocate of violence, but I do possess a foul temper. Once, while negotiating morning rush hour in Dalston Kingsland, a skinny young bloke pushed everyone out of his way in a mad dash for the train. He missed it, of course. A few young children took a tumble down the congested stairs, and so when I caught up with him on the platform, I punched him in the head. It wasn’t a hard punch – I think he was more shocked than anything. He turned around and said ‘You fucking knobhead. What did you do that for?’
‘What sort an insult is knobhead?’ I said, and then proceeded to explain, very rationally, why I punched him. I just called me a ‘Knobhead’ again.
I’m not proud of it, but I did feel a little like Charles Bronson from Death Wish for a split second.
Most mornings I see this fifty-something year old woman struggling with her disabled kid’s wheelchair at the top of the stairs at the station. I reckon I help her with it sixty percent of the time. Not a bad ratio when you consider that only once in the last year have I ever seen anyone else help her.
People seem preoccupied to get to their jobs. And then you ask people about their jobs and they say hate them. It’s like a death row inmate saying ‘Yeah, don’t worry about the waiting time, mate. Electrocute me tomorrow.’ I don’t understand it.
Not being the bottom of the corporate ladder anymore, the need to impress my superiors in non-existent. I roll in at 9.15am most days with my Kindle under my arm. But even my relatively quiet commute is still a melee of angry men in crap suits and women begrudging society for forcing stilettoes upon them.
I live by a set of rules when commuting:
- Always let people out in front of you.
- Never put your bag on an empty seat.
- Get out of the way if someone wants to get past.
- Never run.
Unfortunately not everyone lives by them and in my role as Vigilante of Civility, I have been known to redress the balance of manners. For example, I was on the 38 bus in Angel, rolling towards Hackney and a girl refused to move her pink holdall from the one remaining seat. I stood next to her and her gaudy fucking bag, realising that in my briefcase I had a big, black marker pen. I snuck the pen out and hit it under my sleeve. As she gazed out of the window, I scribbled all over her bag. I grinned a ‘Goodbye’ when I disembarked at Mare Street. She looked at me blankly.
Tonight, I have a long-haul flight. Bali. I need a break – I’m breaking. Planes are slightly more bearable. Whack in my noise cancelling Bose headphones and watch a violent movie on my iPad. This morning I was the asshole with the 25 kilo suitcase on the morning commute. I adhered to my rules, nonetheless. I’ll get a cab to the airport after I finish work. Fuck getting the train. The holiday begins now. Sorry I’ve been away so long.