If you are a person reading this; a person that works; works at a place of work almost every day then perhaps you too, have the joy of commuting.
Having been in my new job for just over a week, I am returning to the joyous experience that is commuting.
My commute is now twice as long as it used to be because I now have to get a train into Birmingham New Street station and a train back out again. This is proving to be a bit of a shock to the system having had a comfortable twenty minute drive to my last job for two years. However, I’m in a much better place now.
Now there are a couple of problems with commuting by train.
Firstly, you are heavily dependant on the train being reliable. This is not guaranteed. Secondly, well, you’re commuting with people. Now I’m generally a people person. That is, unless I’m commuting.
Let me explain to you, the joys of this evening’s commute home.
I finish at five, my coat is on and I make a super quick stop at the gents on the way out. I still washed my hands! Then I dash out but in our building, they lock the front doors at five so I have to go out through the car park and make my way around the building to get back on track. Not really a big deal, as long as you haven’t got a group of colleagues from another department dawdling and chatting about Celebrity Big Brother blocking the way. Screaming, “Get out of the F*cking way you hoofwanking dawdling bastards!” is probably not the best way to avoid a bad reputation in your second week at the company.
I get a pace on and reach the train station at 17:07:35. My train to New Street Station leaves at 17:08. I make a dash for it on platform 5 but alas as I descend the stairs, I hear the doors closing and it starts to pull away.
But hold on, there’s a train from platform 3 that leaves at 17:13 and it’s a direct train to New Street station! I’ll be there about 17:23, plenty of time to catch the 17:38 to my stop, Sandwell and Dudley. That’s not so bad.
As I reach the platform, sure enough the electronic display states this is a direct train. I jump on this fairly quiet carriage and wait. I’m joining in with the rest of the zombified carriage and checking Facebook on my phone when I note we are running late. The conductor comes on over the tanoy on the train. This is an exact transcript of what he said:
It was just noise. I didn’t know what he was saying.
At 17:19, we eventually set off, but I wasn’t too fussed. It would take about 10 minutes, that’s all. I’ll still have plenty of time.
Then we stopped at the next station. And then the next one. And then the next one. I then realised that they had changed this journey to one that stops at every stop. Great, I probably was going to miss my next train after all!! The conductor probably announced all this earlier in that inaudible, undecipherable noise that came from the speakers.
Hmm, what is that fragrant scent in the air? A woman sat a couple of seats away from me must have had a dead animal rotting within the confines of her dank and stench-ridden arsehole. Smelly wench! Who needs frakking? Just hook up a pipework to her arse and she’d quite comfortably fuel the North East!
Then a chap comes down into our quiet but pungent carriage and sits not far from me and proceeds to play a game on his phone. On full volume! The sounds of the animated game play with pings, bangs, pops, whooshes, pops, bangs, pings pings, an animated characters voice spouting some shit followed by more pings and bangs really started to annoy me. It was R2D2 on acid! But as I looked out of the window, I saw the familiar sight of Birmingham city centre and with it being 17:32, I felt there was still a chance after all.
We then waited in the tunnel for a bit. Probably a mere 100 metres from the platform just to rub it in.
When we pull up on the platform it is 17:37:29. Perhaps, if I get a sprint on and if my train was running a little late to depart, I could make it!
Luckily, my train was indeed running a little late to depart and I had a couple of minutes to get there. Unfortunately, there was the little problem of Other Commuters getting in the way! They were all walking like they were Zombie extras from the Walking Dead! Or you’d have the weavers, the sudden 180 degree turners, the people who have their toddler children on rains and the toddlers are wandering and weaving unsteadily like that of a drunkard on a Friday night, only without the kebab in their hand!
All of these people were in my way. Why, at a time like this, do I seem to have every person in the whole of Birmingham who can’t move in a single direction, in a fluid, confident and brisk manner?
It’s at times like this I hate people. I really do hate people. I’m stuck behind these human slugs and can’t help but wish that the government would bring in a policy whereby it was actually acceptable to punch slow walkers in the back of the head.
Needless to say, I waved goodbye to my train as it departed, merely seconds before I managed to get there. I then look at a couple of the slow walkers who blocked my way on the stairs. I look at them with contempt. It’s their fault. A part of me wished I had punched them in the back of the head. I don’t care if they’re about 83! He’s got a stick! That’s a weapon!
Then a woman walks past and coughs on me.
I am left to stand in New Street station for half an hour to wait for my next train and do as most people do. I people watch. It’s almost like a wildlife programme at times.
A couple in love kiss goodbye. I’m not against public displays of affection. I think it’s quite sweet to see a couple have a kiss. I may be grumpy but I do have a softer side you know. But was this kissing?
He opened his mouth wide like he was trying to inhale a melon. He was also clearly trying to stick his tongue in but she was having none of that and I don’t blame her. Yes be romantic. Yes show the person you love that you do but have some decorum! Was this a sort of animalistic, primal mating ritual, which involved a kind of mandible wrestling? Was he trying to ingest her? Who knows? It was a disturbingly awkward dribblefest.
Then a woman walks past and coughs on me.
I board the train I need and I have to stand. If you do get to sit there’s a chance that you get some tosser banging into your elbow as they walk past down the aisle or perhaps even as you’re leaving the train there’s some inconsiderate tosser leaving his elbow sticking out.
But as I stood there about to embark on the final leg of my rail journey home, I continued to people watch.
“Is this the train to Shrewsbury,” asks a man jumping on with the zest of someone on a television game show. “Is this the train to Shrewsbury, asks a skinny, professor looking fellow as the doors automatically close on him. Someone opens the door and tells him yes it is. “Is this the train to Shrewsbury?” asks a breathless woman who had managed to run and clearly gathered pace. “Is this the train to Shrewsbury?” asks someone else and if I had a pound for every time someone asked the same bloody question I’d be a millionaire! Okay a slight exaggeration. I’d have had seven pounds.
I noticed a man sitting near a window. He had a checked shirt, his hair styled a certain way and large sideburns. Actually, they were mutton chops! Then I realised that he is trying to look like Wolverine! I bet he loves it. He thinks he looks so good. But to me, he just looks like a man who is trying to look like a comic character. Perhaps it’s facial hair envy. Perhaps it’s follicle envy. Perhaps it’s both.
There’s a few of us standing near the doors. One man yawns and fails to cover his mouth. He sprays onto the back of another commuter.
The woman next to me is having cramps and is concerned that she may be pregnant. This wasn’t info that she volunteered to me and I’m not a psychic. I noticed what she was googling on her phone. Come on, we’ve all done it! I thought to myself, standing there next to this concerned woman who looked a bit like the character Ugly Betty, that I just hope that if she is with child, she brings it up to know about the perils of the commute.
And then she turned and coughed on me.