Dear fellow commuter,
Do you like travelling? I do. I love going to new places, sampling local cuisine, visiting historical monuments, and wandering down narrow unmarked streets. But sometimes, the journey can be even more of an experience than getting pickpocketed on the streets of Paris. The time in transit, whether spent with a friend or a great book, can be the most exciting, as you watch the world whizz past your window. Yes, travelling is great.
But travelling somewhat loses its glean when you're making the same journey twice a day, five or more days a week. In my case, my hour-long commute means I can live at home, with a full fridge, endless hugs and, if I'm lucky, a foil-wrapped meal in the oven. The commute combines all the very worst aspects of travelling and serves it up at the beginning and end of every working day. So let's try to make it just slightly more bearable by following these simple rules:
Don't eat hot smelly food on the train. No matter how hungry you are at 10pm, there is never a good reason to get Burger King and sit on the train making the whole carriage stink of trans fats.
Learn to use the toilet. I don't know about you but generally, when I use the toilet, I close the door after me. I know it's difficult to remember when you're drunk, tired and just want to pee, but can we try to close and lock the door before we unzip?
Don't make phone calls. There is nothing more annoying then listening to half of the world's most banal conversation, before the inevitable "hello? Can you hear me?" NO THEY CAN'T YOU'RE ON A MOVING TRAIN SEND THEM A TEXT. Having said this, if you want to have an incredibly awkward public break-up to liven up my commute, be my guest. (It's happened. Awkward.)
Move all the way down the carriage. People are going to squash on whether you're standing halfway down the aisle or at the very end. Take a dive through those sweaty bodies and use up all available space, before someone (read: me) passive-aggressively asks you to move down.
Fold your Brompton bike. Amazingly, people think bringing on a foldable bike and not folding it is okay. It completely defeats the purpose of buying the bike. They're annoying anyway, the pedals put ladders in my tights and they're so inconspicuous that very tall men have tripped over them. But still, fold them.
Observe and obey the signs. If the carriage is designated as a quiet one, don't go making that loud obnoxious phone call (see point above). You are not more important that the rest of us and you are not too important for the sign to apply to you. Shut it.
Don't read the crossword over my shoulder and whisper answers under your breath. Creepier than "subtly" stroking my leg as we squish onto the train.
Take it easy when we get in to your station. You're going to get off the train, don't worry. The extra thirty seconds isn't going to impact your morning all that much. We don't all have to squash against the door. Spare your organs.
Don't throw me shade when I have to clamber over your legs to get to the middle seat. The aisle and window are prime spots: the middle seat is left to the idiot who runs down the platform to leap on the train as the whistle blows. I know, it's my fault. But it's not my fault that you have four-foot long legs and feel the need to stretch them into the aisle and middle seat so I have no choice but to say "excuse me" in my sweetest voice - a big ask already - and then deal with your moans as you move your legs back where they belong, in your seat's designated leg zone.
Give up your seat for older people, pregnant ladies and people with broken legs or crutches. There is nothing more infuriating than seeing a bunch of businessmen too busy on their iPads to notice that an exhausted elderly man with crutches has just stepped on board and has resigned himself to standing by the door, leaning on the handrail for support. MANNERS, PEOPLE.
These are especially important now, with tube strikes threatening to turn London into the Bermuda Triangle. If we all put in that little bit more effort not to be the self-involved humans we are, we might make it through alive.
Francesca, fellow commuter and someone who doesn't follow all these rules all the time, but damnit I try.