Writing a recent piece (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sasha-wagstaff/a-mindful-commute_b_5919272.html) brought to mind things that used to wind me up on my daily commute into London years ago. I still travel into London on occasion and it's a novelty for me now; I find it entertaining and amusing...glamorous even. But that's because I don't do it every day. And I rarely travel in rush hour. But I have noticed that what is deemed to be acceptable in terms of what I like to call 'train etiquette' has changed with the advent of modern technology and also due to dating websites with a very direct, punchy approach to meeting a potential 'love' match.
So. In my day, there were basic rules when it came to train etiquette. My pet hate was men sitting with their legs VERY WIDE APART. I don't mean normal wide apart, I mean VERY WIDE APART. In a way that causes discomfort to your fellow travellers and with all due respect, surely also to your good selves, dudes? No one but NO ONE needs to sit like that. As though a giant cactus has been invisibly placed between your thighs and that by flexing them inwards a fraction you might do your crown jewels a lasting mischief. So unless you're in on some kind of secret that you are occupying literally the only ejector seat that exists on a rush hour train and that being polite with your chair space will automatically propel you out of the train at high speed - close your thighs please. Just a fraction.
Phew. I'm glad that's out. Been bothering me for years. Moving on. So, back then, passing wind in any fashion was an obvious no-no, particularly - well, you know the one. Noises or smells are just not acceptable - and that is the law. Even on the vomit comet (i.e. the last train of the evening, usually in the early hours of the morning and positively teeming with boozed up, squawking workers munching on fast food - aaah, those were the days ) - this takes drunken nausea to an intolerable peak. Another issue that has always irked travellers: speaking loudly on your mobile phone. For the entire journey. Accompanied by raucous, snorting laughter that is both annoying and leaves your surrounding passengers wondering what the hell was so bloody hilarious. (Share the joke, people. If it's that damned funny, put your phone call on hold and give us the lowdown so we can all guffaw with you...en masse, holding our sides in comradeship , making new friends as we mutually get the joke).
What else? Oh yes. Snuggling up to someone for a snooze...someone you're not on (at very least) nodding terms, at any rate. This is considered to be somewhat forward. It is often better to introduce yourself before attempting such a move. Drooling on said stranger's shoulder is also not cool. Putting make up on used to be frowned upon if I remember rightly from my commuting days, but by all accounts, it's so common these days, no one bats an eyelid (forgive the pun). Squeezing spots is not ok - however discreetly done - nor is applying nail polish. It's stinky, it's messy and it makes travellers feel anxious about their suits and their iPads. Shaving with an electric shaver...no, no, no. Not appropriate. And oddly intimate, guys. If we wanted to see you do that, we'd....well, see below re new dating techniques.
It seems that modern technology has added a new dimension to the now seemingly innocuous concerns about burping and loudly conducted phone calls. Today, we need to worry about our fellow passengers watching unsuitable TV shows on their iPads. One Born Every Minute, maybe. Fine in the privacy of your own home to watch ladies screaming and moaning as they deliver new life into the world, but perhaps not the most fitting thing at 7am. Embarrassing Bodies. Not many of us want to see an absurdly wonky penis before breakfast. Or God forbid a weird stool sample. Please, no. We sympathise, naturally, but we really don't want to view it in an open forum. One hopes that it goes without saying that watching porn on a train journey is up there at the top of the list when it comes to being improper. Good grief.
And then we come to dating websites. There are a few of these floating about that many will be familiar with. A few of the popular ones are very much about 'instant connections' - which can mean quick fire chats but equally, this can involve the exchange of selfies. Sometimes of the face, sometimes...of favourite body parts. If said body part is in any way...outlandish, this will often be shared amongst friends. (Oh yes. You all knew this, right?) Anyway, again a modern sin of the train commute. Flashing nude body parts to friends sitting opposite followed by deafening cackling. This, according to the research I have conducted, is considered to be VERY ill-mannered.
So the best thing all round, it seems is to...sleep on your commute. Write a book (it's all the rage). Or just...do whatever the hell you like as long as you do it with the utmost discretion and consideration of your short-term travelling companions. I mean, who knows...the person who just sent you a photo of his nether regions (wonky or otherwise) might be sitting right next to you...