Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Confessions from a Commuter: OR How Not to Be a Jerk on Public Transport

Commuting on public transport is something new to me.  Growing up in the states, I can’t say that I’ve ever had to take a bus anywhere (besides school, and even then, I was usually ‘too close’ and had to walk), and certainly the cities I’ve chosen to live in are hardly known for their public transport.  And then again, I’ve always had a car.  A luscious, luscious car.  (How I miss you, commute singing!)

Here in Melbourne, we made the decision to wholly rely on public transport. This presents several interesting quagmires in our lives, like when we chose where to live (i.e. within walking distance of a train station), and how the heck we get home from places at night, when it’s not running frequently or sometimes not at all.

So I’ve compiled a list of learnin’s for those of you who might visit, or those of you who live in this sort of a situation and don’t know how to act (though common sense could dictate all of these to you) or for those of you who just like to chuckle at my commuting woes.

Top Ten Traveling Tips!

           1) Bring something to keep you entertained – I can’t tell you how many people come on the train with NOTHING.  First off, where I live it’s around 45 minutes to the city if you’re on the express.  If you’re not, it’s considerably longer.  So bring something to do.  I don’t care if it’s a book (my preference), your iPod, the trashy mag the MX (god I love that thing) or you just want to take a nap, make sure you entertain yourself.  Because you know why?  The person sitting next to you, (re:me) probably doesn’t want to chat with you.  Because they brought their entertainment.  And quite frankly, the games of thrones series ain’t gonna finish itself (anyone else hate the 4th book as much as I do?  It’s taking me forever, because I Just.  Don’t.  Care.  Anymore.)  Pro Tip: sometimes I like to put my ear buds in and pretend I’m listening to music while I’m reading a book.  This way, no one is going to talk to me. Ever.

        2) Bodily functions have no place on public transportation.  Just like an elevator, you’re in a confined space with people you don’t know.  So while you might think this is an opportune time to fart in anonymity, it’s not.  Because now I am trapped with your fart smell, and I’m trying not to gag.  Also, stop picking your nose.  I can see you.  Yes, you.  Oh god, did you just WIPE IT ON THE TRAIN WALL?  Help me.

        3) Get off your laptop.  Although I’m a huge proponent of bringing something to do, you shouldn’t bring something that’s going to mess with everyone else.  Like if you really want to learn to juggle knives, the morning commute isn’t the best place to do this.  Another case in point: a giant laptop from 1994.  I know you think watching the CSI: Duluth is high on your commuting priority, but when you’ve decided to sit on the outside seat and you won’t bother to move so either I can sit or I just want to get off the train because all these farts are making me want to vomit, it’s really a pain to attempt to crawl over your giant laptop in my skirt, and with my purse and my lunch bag.  Can’t you even swing your legs out?  NO?  Then laptop denied.  And no, I’m not sorry one bit that I stepped on your foot, so stop glaring at me.  This rule is forgiven for 1) people who are doing work and 2) people who sit on the inside and 3) considerate people who swing their legs out. This brings me to my next point:

4) Move in, asshat.  It’s rush hour.  You’re not getting off at the next stop.  We both know that.  So it’d be great if you could just move in to the interior seat.  I don’t want to have to climb all over you and you know you’re not going to swing your legs out.  So be a pal and move in.  This also goes for you clowns who stand in the doorway.  The only acceptable time to do this is if you are literally getting off at the next stop.  If you’re not, well, they say move down the aisles for a reason. 

         5) My newest marketing campaign for the train is “Butts, not bags.”  Middle aged ladies and young girls, we need to have a talk.  1) I have nice purses, so I get it, you might not want to put it on the ground.  (train ground + expensive leather purse = tragic!), so do you know where it goes?  Hint, it’s not on the seat next to you.  Did your purse pay for a train ticket? Oh, it didn’t?  Then stop giving me crap when I tell you to move it.  Put it on your laps, or get a crappy commuting bag. 

        6) Please don’t eat tuna fish out of a can on the train.  In the morning.  Right next to me.  

        7) Just buy a ticket, okay

          8) Speaking of: Presumably, you have a ticket when you got on the train.  It’s either a paper ticket or your Myki card.  So it shouldn’t come as a real shock to you that to get out of the station, you have to use your card.  Why isn’t it out?  WHY???  You are clogging up the whole line and now i am feeling claustrophobic surrounded by tall strangers.

        9) Although this should be common sense, I continually see this and it aggravates me to no end.  If someone had a need to sit down, like a broken leg for instance, GET UP.  When you choose those priority seating seats by the door, you might have to get up so stop making that face.  It’s right there on a sign.  Please stop making people ask you to get up when they are on crutches or are very, very pregnant.  They shouldn’t have to ask.  So be aware of your surroundings!  (PS to the annoyed pregnant lady who snapped at the guy who offered his seat.  don't be a jerk about it.  a simple, no thank you would suffice.)

         10) When you’re ready to exit the station, please stay to the left on the escalators!  I might not be one of those people running up the stairs in the morning to get to work, but I stay out of their way.  Just like I expect YOU to stay out of my way when I’m trying my darndest to make it to the 5:07 Lilydale Bada$$ Express.  (I think that’s it’s official name).  So although you probably think you are walking appropriately fast down the right side of the escalator, I am trying to run.  

     BONUS:   When something happens on the train, like there’s a tree on the tracks, and you have to take a replacement bus, please remember: We’re all in this together.  No need to go feral.  And pushing ME, doesn’t do a lick of good, even if you ‘apologize’ after you do it. (and yes, we both know you only said sorry because I gave you a look) It just makes me say “you do realize that pushing me doesn’t make anyone in front of me move, right?”  And then you look dumb.  

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