Puffy eyed, frizzy haired and ever so slightly dishevelled, I stick out like a sore thumb. At 6.20am I’m trudging through Salisbury’s train station amidst a sea of suits and stilettos, awaiting my first day of commuting to the Big Smoke.
Where I can usually settle in a seat, nestling in my little den of technology, a business man resides. Luckily, Salisbury is the start of the line, so I do, in fact, manage to bag a seat and table, along with my (also corporate looking) Dad. But it isn’t long until the carriage is swarming with briefcase-bearing fuddy-duddys. Stuffy-nosed, silver haired men peer down at me, disdainfully noting how scuffed my shoes are beneath my un-ironed dress.
Assuming ‘resting position’, I scatter my belongings everywhere in the hope of fending off impending space-invaders. We arrive at Andover and my plan is ruined. I heard once that if you stare at someone as they get into a bus or train, they won’t sit next to you. It doesn’t work.
As the procession of pacman professionals gobbling up every spare seat started, one dapper fellow mistook my glare as an invitation. Snatching my handbag and shoving it over my head, he slid in next to me. “Ever so kind of you to offer, thank you”, he mumbled. Too tired to realise quite what was happening, I almost missed his tiny woman friend, in what I can only imagine to be an ever-so-expensive outfit, sneak in opposite. Now, I’m 5ft 8 and this woman looked about half my size – something you’d never know if you felt her feet. Everywhere I moved, there it was: a spikey stiletto scratching up my already scruffy shoes. Not wanting to seem too rude, I’d apologise if one of my nudges was a little hard. 30 minutes later and I wanted to rip her designer-clad feet off.
If foot space was one thing to contend with, elbow space was a close second. Granted, I’m not the smallest of girls, but this tank that had wedged himself next to me, clearly hadn’t thought it through. The next hour was spent in a Newton’s Cradle of elbow-bashing and shoulder-shoving.
It is safe to say that, now warned of the dangers of commuting con-corporates, a polite demeanour is useless. Tomorrow, aware of the dangers, I’ll know what I have to do.
How to commute in comfort:
- Choose an aisle seat and place all your bags next to you.
- Unload everything onto the table, claiming as much space as you feel comfortable.
- Engage laptop, iPod and reading materials ASAP in the hope of deterring people from asking you to move your many, many belongings.
- When passengers board, feign sleep.
- If you are asked to move, get up and put things away as slowly as possible (they could get bored and move on to some other victim!).
- Claim the aisle seat (the seat of power), assume a comfortable position, and POSITION YOUR FEET AND ELBOWS. As you would fight at the cinema for your elbow space, so you should fight on a train. If all else fails, you have the aisle for extra space.
- And should anyone elbow or kick you, damn well do it back.
Don’t even get me started on the underground.
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Category: London Calling