I wrote this a month or so ago but didn't post it here:
It was Monday, today, and Mondays seem to be the second worse day to catch a train to work. Friday’s are the worst… too many GenX and GenY with headaches from Thursday-night pub-nights. Mondays, though, well, everyone seems depressed or cranky.
I have a 40 minute train journey from Wahroonga to Town Hall every day and if I don’t have some software to learn, or a project to do then I leave my laptop in the backpack and snooze on the way in. My iRiver has three playlists… walking, quiet and POD casts.
Today two things happened that got my goat. The first I am a little ashamed of, but the second I giggled to myself.
I set my iRiver to snooze mode, aka quiet, and got comfortable. In Paradisium from Faure’s requiem was first up. Sounds like angels singing, when in fact it’s the missus and 120 others in her choir. Anyway, I am usually subconsciously aware of what’s happening around me, except for last week when suddenly there were officials carrying a collapsed passenger from a few seats up from mine. I hadn’t realised that A. Someone had collapsed, B that someone had reported a sick passenger, C that the train had stopped, D that rail staff had come on-board and helped the poor lady out. But that was last week.
Today, however, I was vaguely aware of a person sitting down next to me. My station is one of the first so it fills up as we get closer to the city. What felt less than a minute later she elbows me lightly in the ribs and says “Your aftershave is making me gag!” or words to the effect. I was brought round to bright consciousness pretty quickly but not quite sure what I had just heard.
I looked at her to make sure she was talking to me; she sure was; she had this angry face on her.
Now, I don’t use too much aftershave, and had used the regular amount this morning, on account, like most husbands, SWMBO buys the most expensive aftershave thinking it’s better than the cheapest. The way things work I can’t argue as I’ve never had the chance to buy cheap aftershave since I was single and my fiancée threw it out. So, I hardly use any to make it last longer, that way, by the time to bottle is empty it's cheap.Think about it.
She looked at me in fury. I looked back at her in puzzlement. I was aware of people looking up to see the commotion. She then mixed in a questioning look with her fury look which clearly asked “What are you going to do about it?”. Knowing I must have looked much like a stunned mullet I dropped a an indignation look into the equation. There was a lot of looking.
I know people have allergies and I can appreciate the discomfort, even SWMBO is not allowed to wear perfume when in her choir so I am a little on the defensive side. But I am on a public train, sitting by myself, with scant amount of aftershave on anyway and here she is embarrassing me in front of the other passengers.
In my clearest… just woken up voice… I reply “I’m sorry about that, but your rudeness is equally gagging!”
The expression on her face was worth a million quid, and by the sounds of gwarfs behind us others thought so too. Instead of retreating, and these sorts of people don’t retreat easily, she started on me about how inconsiderate I was wearing perfume and how it’s affecting her and how evil I am etc all of which she managed to impart with very few words and so quickly that I can’t, now, remember exactly what she said, but I’d had enough. I looked her up and down and said “You seem as ugly on the inside as you do on the outside and while you don’t like my perfume at least I can wash it off” and with that I put my earphones back in and went back into my snooze zone.
The chuckles from behind, and the seemingly fruitless argument made her sit there for a few moments huffing and puffing before finally getting up and leaving.
I could have been nice to her, but it was Monday morning.
The second incident happened on the way home. Normally I work late on Mondays, but not today. I caught the peak-hour train home, shuffled downstairs and found a seat. Converse to mornings, afternoon peak trains are full straight away and empty out after they leave the city so getting a seat can be bit of a blood sport; especially from middle aged ladies with bags and elbows and heads down like footballers in a scrum.
Well, this afternoon the two-seater I am gunning for has a twenty something guy sitting in the middle with a bag next to him. He clearly has a “not sharing” attitude. There’s no choice for me but to plonk down beside him. I noticed first off that he was faking sleep. No one can have their legs that far apart, sit in the middle of the seat and balance upright at the same time. So, like I said, I slid in beside him, so little room that he’s pushed over a little.
The inside of a typical Sydney Tangara Carriage
I find myself sitting with hunched-shoulders and leaning forward because he won’t give me my half of the seat. I’m squeezed in. I not a big guy, and nor is he… there’s plenty of room. I look at him with my best “you’ve got to be kidding me” look but he’s “sound asleep”. I try reading the paper, but it’s no good, I am not comfortable and he’s not budging. It’s not half obvious he’s pushing back against me to keep his extra space.
I am too bothered about more important things than this drongo so I pick out the only other seat in sight and move before the next station. Wynyard station is probably the busiest city station in Sydney, and if you’re not seated by then, then you stand much of the way home.
We stopped, a huge woman gets on and ploughs into his space. She’d almost bolted down the stairs to grab what was one of the only remaining seats. She had no intention of standing and no intention of worrying about this squirt taking up more than his share of real estate. The poor little fellow almost popped out of the seat! His bag was crushed against the wall, and his legs slammed together, he’s squeezed upright and wide awake.
I caught his eye and I smiled that self satisfactory smile that says “sucks be to you, loser!” and chuckled to myself. Goodness it was funny.