Tag Archives: overcrowding

All Change

I was standing on the platform last Friday, waiting for a train. The notice board tiresomely said ‘next train not in service’. Which seems to happen a lot on that line. It’s like at that junction point they remove a third of the trains from service because they think there is a lesser population stupid enough to go northwards to nowhere.

Which is sort of true except an INSANE number of people, including myself, want to go one stop north and we want to get out the barriers as soon as possible which is at the front of the train. So I shuffled to the head of the track and tried to position myself near where an entering door might ultimately stop. This was not helped by the fact that, as usual, what are usually young east European or Asian (see ‘Indian’ if you are South African) women – not to generalise of course – tend to quite aggressively calculate where the space is and then park DIRECTLY in front of it. So they bump backwards into you when a train stops and people have to get off to let them on. They stand as close to the edge as is possible without you pushing them onto the track and elbow outwards with their oversized tote bags to maximise surface area (of very skinny girl) in front of the doorway. There was one there on Friday.

The station master was getting quite fed up with staring across a cold platform at what were clearly, to him, mentally deficient people. ‘The train on Platform 2 is terminating here. Do NOT get on the train. It stops here. If you don’t want to listen to me, at least try observeĀ and notice that when everyone gets off, you should not get on because the train won’t go anywhere.’ And when it pulled in, ‘To the people ON the train, get off the train. This train terminates here. Follow the other people who already got off.’

So the train departed and the top end of the platform crowded up with all the idiots like me trying to get on a carriage near the exit on the next stop, bunched up together like penguins in a polar gale keeping warm.

‘There are two minutes until the next train, I’d advise all of you squashed up at the top to move down the platform. You have a better chance of boarding if you move down the platform. The train after the next train is not in service and this next train will be full. You have a MUCH better chance of getting onto this next train if you move now. You have two minutes and you have legs, I’d advise you to use them and move down while there is still time… or you can just stay where you are and ignore me.’ (Obviously we were ignoring him.) In all fairness, he had guessed right, the next train WAS full and it WAS very hard for people to get on. I was just lucky to be hot on the heels of the crazy chick as I’d actually been on the platform before her and before most of the crowd of people.

Oddly enough I seemed to be the only person on the platform who was amused by the conductor’s sarcastic personality. The rest of them didn’t seem insulted either. They all seemed to be deaf to what he was saying. So maybe he was onto something when he questioned our general listening capability and/or understanding of English?



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Joys of public transport

The ‘great British summer’ has arrived. This means, having peaked at midsummer, it will gradually get dark early and early every evening from now onward. In the meanwhile, it’s been drippy wet and mediocre warm.

The strange thing is although temperatures are fairly moderate they are starting to soar on public transport as the heat gets in and it doesn’t get out. Also there are a lot more people on the trains. I thought they would all go on holiday but it seems they holiday in the Big Smoke. Moreover, the workers instead of riding bicycles or something into work seem wary of impeding rain and are all also on the train with me.

I miss my bicycle a lot but I really do stay too far now to use it daily.

Instead, the last two days into work, I seem to be seated next to Sick Boy. Bonus: I got a seat. Penalty: It’s next to patient zero. And it’s not hayfever when in addition to sniffling and nose blowing there are deep throaty coughs every now and then with a sort of wheezy sound in the background. It hasn’t been the same Sick Boy, but they were both young and twenty something ish so maybe they all hang out together in some uber cool underground bar somewhere passing germs around with other uber cool people.

The evening journey home last night was something else in a different way. I was on one of the flip up jump seats near the door. Three different girls with long hair all sat down next to me for only a few stops each. Everyone one of them had their very long hair loose. I kept thinking there was a bug crawling on my arm. Until I realised it was because their hair, which was sooo not part of my personal space, was brushing up against me and tickling me. They were then replaced by a girl with a bob. Who seemed normal enough until she kept trying to shuffle closer and closer to me til apparently our thighs were meant to align. She’d realise this and then sort of wiggle slightly back again.

Thing is, I double checked, I was quite clearly in my seat. And I couldn’t shuffle further down so she could have part of my seat because Candy Crush guy on the other side of me had his elbow partially in my airspace.

Poor girl. She didn’t look that big but I realised look at her again, she was the epitome of pear shaped childbearing. And I think a bit of her was coming off the seat on the other side and getting in the way of people by the door. Thing is, that’s not really my fault.

Anymore than if you are over six foot and have to sit in an economy seat next to me or crouch bent over on the train over me. Or have a really big penis and have to sit with your legs sprawled apart. Or really big boobs that mean you can’t cross your arms over but they use up my half of the armrest.

I realise that perhaps some of these problems are not your fault and I have a limited sympathy. But that is limited because I can’t reach the tops of supermarket shelves and tall people do not often help me. I don’t get extra baggage allowance even though I weigh less than half of the heaviest person on a plane as a rule. I have to take up the hem on almost everything I own, I can’t just buy stuff off the shelf and it fits.

And yes, I can give up some room to you, often I do. But then you take advantage and use up the ENTIRE armrest plus part of the air above my lap.

And actually, I pay the same amount as you do even if I don’t use up the same amount of space. That’s genetics for you. Maybe it sucks and it’s unfair. But it’s unfair for me too because there are cars I can’t drive and you can because I can’t adjust the seat enough to reach the pedals and see over the top. Life isn’t about being fair. And neither is public transport. It’s not the great leveller. If you could, you too would be in an aircon car all the way, wouldn’t you?



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