Dear all other peak-time commuters,
I'm sure I'm right in saying that none of us adores our daily journey to work. After all, getting up at ungodly o'clock to squash ourselves onto overpacked trains whilst paying vastly inflated prices to experience a service that's more often than not utterly borked for some inexplicable reason isn't the sane's idea of fun.
But the whole experience could be made more pleasant than the average cow's trip to the abattoir if everyone was a touch more willing to abide by a little train etiquette.
Thus I propose the following guidelines on commuter travel:
- There really is absolutely no point trying to get on a train before everyone else has got off it. There will be more, not less space, for you to conduct your violent attempts to bag a seat if there are fewer people in the carriage whilst you do it.
- If you're sitting in an aisle seat, and someone else would like to either sit in or vacate the window seat next to you, for Pete's sake MOVE. Don't pretend you can't see them struggling not to bash their bag into your laptop as you resolutely refuse to budge your knees an inch. Be helpful, or get whacked in the Mac. Your choice.
- If you must eat, do it discreetly, and pick your foodstuff carefully. The following are not acceptable for consumption on a crowded train:
• Anything with an odour that travels beyond your own personal space - that includes burgers, chips, salads drenched in garlicky dressings, and anything involving eggs
• Large Tupperware containers of cereal into which you've just poured whole tubs of yoghurt
• In quick succession, two pasties from the West Cornwall Pasty Company - all the more so if it's not yet 8am
• Entire Chinese meals, comprising four tubs spread across the communal table
• Yop. Grow up
- If you're the parent of a child under the age of six, and have no option other than to travel on a peak-time commuter train, then that's unfortunate, and I feel for you. I do. But if you're going to clog up the doors with buggies; use precious, hard fought-for seats for bags filled with toys, wipes and Godknowswhat; and not bat an eyelid when your darling offspring hollers its head off on the otherwise silent and dozing 7.11, then you're going to be subjected to some pretty evil glares. Deal with them. Or dope your child prior to travel. Your choice.
- Reading over other people's shoulders is rude. Reading anything by Katie Price is stupid.
- If you must take or make a phone call, do it briefly and quietly. Oh, and promptly. Don't look at the phone's screen contemplatively whilst pondering whether to answer. No one needs to hear twenty-eight bars of...anything, actually.
- If you're togged up in suit and brogues, rushing around like the world will end if you're not there to oversee it, do give a little thought to the fact that trains are not desperately private places, and that oh-so-important image you've been so carefully cultivating will come crashing down around your ears if you whip out a laptop on the train home and forgo the spreadsheets in favour of a computer game involving elves.
- If you choose to read the Financial Times of a morning, do us all a favour and read it on your iPad. No commuter I have yet encountered has been able to wield the FT with the dexterity required not to smack someone in the face as they turn the page, and I do not wish for a papercut to the eyeball. Ditto the Telegraph.
- Don't discuss your recent surgical procedures with your neighbour. There's (probably) a time and a place for chats about the removal of ovarian cysts, but the 06.59 to King's Cross ain't one of them.
- Please for the love of all things in existence, make sure your headphones are plugged firmly into your iPod, rather than subjecting your fellow passengers to some half-arsed tinny monstrosity. If that tinny monstrosity happens to be Justin Bieber, we can't be held responsible for our actions (for shame, 30-something brunette with the short hair travelling into King's Cross on Monday. For shame).
Yours ever so gratefully,