Fave Raves

I am, like most commuters, a creature of habit. I aim for the same train, the same carriage and I even have a favourite seat – well not a favourite, exactly, (that would involve it having more in the way of a roaring log fire nearby, maybe a faithful hound, certainly a tin of chocolate biscuits handily placed) but the seat I aim to sit in, all other things being equal. But there’s a problem with favourite seats – other people tend to have them too. In some cases this can lead to an unhealthy contention, a bit of jostling at the doors, sharp suited commuters racing each other down the aisle and elbowing little old ladies aside in their rush to be first for the prize. I’d never stoop to that, obviously. But what about when you get a nuisance commuter, someone with a personal habit that sets your teeth on edge, whose favoured seat is close enough to yours that you have to endure it every single day? How long would you stick it out for?

I thought I had it bad with a bunch of passengers on my morning train who clearly work together and who have taking to infesting my favourite 2-by-3 seat cluster with their inane chatter for the entire length of the journey from Vauxhall to Kew Bridge and beyond. They get on at Waterloo, so always beat me to it, and recruit reinforcements at Clapham Junction so that everything has to be said twice. They talk about the sorts of things that people do when they don’t know each other too well – holidays, builders, a little light joshing. It’s dull enough that I can’t tune it out, and worse, the details are beginning to lodge in my brain. It’s almost more than I can do to prevent myself from chipping in at times helpfully, when one of them asks a question. ‘No, it’s not Morrocco she’s going to this year, it’s the Maldives,’ or ‘The kitchen extension? Six weeks late now and counting, after the plumber put the sink in upside down.’ Yet day after day I stick it out because, damnit, it was my favourite seat before it was theirs. And besides, I want to know how that extension turns out.

But I am not alone. Disgruntled Commuter’s Cannon St. correspondent writes of his experience with one of the worst nuisance commuters of all: the nose picker. The kind who – well no, let me put it in my correspondent’s own words, for the picture he paints is compelling:

"First he blows a few times and manages that silly farting noise that i have tried for but never quite achieved without cheating. Then he looks. Then he wraps the handkerchief tightly around his index finger and inserts said finger in his left nostril, which is large and hairy by the way. He turns and twists, goes really deep, infact i’m sure i’m gonna see that finger come out of his ear one night. He then does the same in the other hairy nostril, has a long hard look at what he’s found and then looks me straight in the eyes as if to say ‘Well what d’ya think about that then’."

Does our correspondent change carriages? No, he does not, for he is made of sterner stuff than I am. But here’s a point for you all to ponder as the year draws to its dreary close: What would make you change seats, carriages, or even trains? And do you have any stories to share to get us through the Christmas period?

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9 responses to “Fave Raves

  1. I am less than you all, I fear, for I have a favourite seat, and that is to have no seat. I have such disdain for my fellow metro-travellers that rarely would I find one who I would not object to sitting next to me, this and the inevitable gang of chavs fighting for seats has led to me getting on just before the doors close and standing opposite their. Tiring, but I never see any muchus.

    I think that your correspondent should perhaps come up with a way of letting Mr Nose Picker know that he is the most detestable thing ever, something subtle but effective. Like pretending to film him do it on his cellphone, then calling a random person and suggesting that he send it to them so they can, well, enjoy their nasal fetishes, if you would.

  2. I have my favourite seat and there isn’t much that would make me change seats. I live between two mainline stations and normally get on at the station which is closer to my destination, but have been known to use the other one when I know a certain seat stealer is getting on at my regular stop.

    The only thing that will make me sit somewhere else when the seat is free, is this guy who works for the same company as me, and who totally creeps me out, in which case I’ll sit anywhere or even get another train which has a different seat configuration.

    Oh good God what have I turned into!

  3. Michelle and Pete, looks like two ends of the spectrum here. Michelle, changing stations to ensure your favourite seat? that’s pretty hardcore.

    but then, I’d change jobs to avoid creeps…

  4. this block is a whimp. look him in the eye and without using a nose rag pick your own nose and eat whatever you find up there.

    ps there is reseach that this can be good for you

    cheers john gibson

  5. Hey there, I have my favourite seat. I like the little two seaters with a bit of wall next to them rather than a window, so that I can rest my weary head. But many things will make me change that. If there is someone with a can of beer, that’s usually enough to put me off. Or someone who generally looks a bit dirty. Sorry.

    Teenagers also p1ss me off (on their way to school or university, there’s LOADS on my train)

  6. I’ve found a lot of sniffing, wheezing and a horrible graveyard cough works wonders in clearing undesirables.

    Flagrantly brandishing Strepsils and gasping ‘Sorry – seem to have caught my partner’s flu’ also helps, but I realise that may only be appropriate down here in the sticks where we actually speak to each other on public transport.

    Maybe instead you could pretend to ring someone and sob ‘Oh god, that doctor was right – it must be Wiffitman’s Disease!’

  7. John – it sounded like this guy was trying to get noticed, in which case ignoring him was probably the best revenge

    Girl – yes, teenagers are definitely to be avoided

    Grunt – you sound like exactly the sort of person I would change even my favourite seat to avoid…

  8. I have my fave seat too, and then 2nd fave seat, but know my fellow travellers fave seats, so when we get on the very civilised 09.51 there is no jostling unless the day trippers are out in force. Then I get grouchy! I have perfected the glare of disapproval for various factions of teens, shoppers and tourists with bags too large to store anywhere barring the seat next to them.

    But the day FCC sends a minging slow old train instead of the favoured 365 is when the driver gets a glare of every single commuter on the platform!!

    I know, its very sad, but I was overjoyed to be on a brand spanking new FCC train this morning, with luggage racks nobody was using, I was so tempted to point them out to the various airport goers!!

    Coming home tonight I realised I hadnt seen the train beggar since the summer when he didnt look too healthy. Is he still frequenting SWT?

  9. No he’s gone from our train too – uh oh. Hopefully found somewhere warm in this weather …

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