The nice thing about the train I get these days is that I generally have choice of seats.
The bad thing about the train I get these days is that so does everybody else.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to deny my fellow passengers a choice of anything. It’s just that they take so flipping long to decide. Picture the scene. The train comes in and we can see through the windows that there are a few seats still empty. Now I can instantly rank any of these seats in order of preference, based on their intrinsic permanent properties such as facing vs non-facing, airline style vs actually comfortable, as well as their contingent properties arising during this particular journey (proximity of other people, schoolchildren, dickwits on phones etc)* so if I manage to get to the door first, I can move unhesitatingly to my first preference seat without so much as a nanosecond’s delay. Yet what usually happens is that I get to the door second, behind someone who gets onto the train, moves to the head of the aisle where no-one can get past them and then stops dead, torn like Buridan’s Ass between two equally attractive bales of hay. While they muse upon the philosophical dilemma in front of them, I am blocked and can only watch as other, faster, commuters who got in the other door perform flanking manouevres and nab all the best seats. This at least breaks the mental deadlock in our friend the Ass, but I end up squished into a backward facing seat between a schoolchild on a mobile phone and the fat guy with the personal hygiene problem.
I’m working on patenting a mobile phone based seat selection device using my algorithm honed through years of commuting, which I will be handing out free at a platform near me as soon as I’ve ironed out some of the bugs (or indeed, actually programmed it). Meanwhile here’s a thought for those people who have difficulty deciding what seat to sit in. It’s a seat. You’ll be sitting in it for about 20 minutes. It’s not your future spouse, difficult career decision or ethical dilemma involving a car load of nuns and a suicide bomber. JUST PICK ONE and sit in it. Thank you. And good night.
*It’s possible I’ve thought about this too much. Forgive me, I spend a lot of time on trains