I am the antithesis of an organised commuter - I just can't get my packing right.
8am: I usually arrive at Brighton station, late, and hurriedly buy a croissant, throwing loose change at a frightened vendor, before rooting around for my rail pass. Tugging it from my bag quickly, it is usually tailgated by an unsheathed tampon or seven receipts. I then like to settle myself in the nearest available carriage - often behind one of the air-conditioned first class screens. This is a pleasant accident while it lasts as I always perspire upon seating.
Seasoned commuters treat the journey like a triathlon, with very smooth changes between legs. They march at speed along the platform, fold-up clown bike under one arm, to the very furthest carriage - minimising the walk at London Bridge.
Most of them have tablets, and use them to make incredibly important decisions during the journey - how to successfully reduce the deficit, for example, or how to clear the jelly on level 67 of Candy Crush.
I spend the first 20 minutes waking up - listening to music and staring into space. Although what I thought was space the other day turned out to be someone's eyes. In hindsight a threatening gesture.
Once I am sufficiently alert, I read, although occasionally this makes me feel sick, so I stare into space some more.
I am notified of our arrival at London Bridge by commuters putting apples and sports clothes (which they wear on the train to make them faster) into miniature rucksacks. This is something I presume I must buy if I am to make it.
If I have brought an umbrella, this is the moment I leave it on the train.
7.40pm: On the return journey to Brighton, with approximately six minutes to go until arrival, I notice people marching towards the front of the train with a grim expression.
I assume initially that they intend to assassinate the driver, and am concerned for him. I think about his wife and children, and gaze sadly out of the window. When we do not crash into barriers at the station I surmise he must be alive, and my spirits are cheered. I realise that this was just another timesaver from the commuters, and begin my own 15 minute walk from the furthest carriage.
By Friday however, I was more at home. I began to feel the instinctive urgency of the commuter pumping through my veins in the evening as we started to pull in. I stood up and joined in the frontward march, hitting most seated customers in the face with my bag. Ah! I nodded to myself sagely - a purpose of the joke rucksack, other than apples and hilarity.
There's one thing that is universally shunned by all passengers however - one act which unites them in their hatred; answering a ringing phone. When I catch the eye of another traveller as I whisper, "Hello?", it's like staring at someone unblinkingly whilst I brazenly fart. My conversation is then so apologetic that words are mouthed silently into the speaker.
"Hello? ... Hello?"
"Hello? Emily. Can you hear me?"
(Mouthed) "Eyes. Hatred. Fart"
"Ok I think your signal's bad - I'm going to try again later."
Why do people get so annoyed? The only other option is to keep silently bumping knees with the person opposite - if you have a seat, or gaze into someone's armpit if you don't.
I have yet to crack the rail formula, but then I wasn't much better on the tube - on my last journey I poured milk on a child.Suggest a correction