Commuting Bafflegab

06/11/2015 at 9:32 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Occasionally, your journey into work will bring a smile. Today had such moments for me. This is essentially pointless waffle that is possibly doing little more than adding to the already clogged mire of blog posts, but it’s something that just enlivened my morning.

As the Northern Line train to Edgeware emptied, I could finally sit myself down among the other passengers. Across the carriage from me, wearing the shared commuter-neutral face, was a young woman loosely holding a tote-bag that hung above her boots.

Upon this tote bag was the phrase ‘EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE’ in a simple white font, each word emblazoned on its own black rectangle, contrasted against the neutral coloured calico. It struck me as incredibly funny, actually ‘haha’ funny. I even chuckled a little on the train.

Perhaps my reaction was over-the-top to what is, at best, whimsey that barely justifies lifting the corners of the mouth. It was just this impression that she was saying, ‘yes, I bring my emotional baggage. So?’

I wanted to take a photo it, even ask to do so in case she might have thought I was trying to sneak a picture like a drooling, vile, sex pest. But she had her earphones in and it would’ve been weird to ask. And it could well have been one of those instances where she didn’t even think about the message on her bag anymore. Much like when someone points out a badge you forgot you were wearing, or your attention is drawn to a keepsake on your shelf that is new to others, but becomes almost invisible to you.

It made me think abut the phrase ‘emotional baggage’. How it’s used negatively, how getting involved with someone can bring its own shedload of neurosis and complexity. The big joke is that it basically describes all of us. If I meet someone that seems to have no hang ups, no issues, no illogical reasoning to anything at all, I wonder how they avoided mentally getting their hands dirty.

The other thing that made me smile was as I got off the train, amongst the general jostling and steadying of footfalls to the exit, a little girl lost some sort of flyer she was reading. Actually, that’s not the bit that made me smile, that came after.

So, this little girl, perhaps not yet 10 – I don’t really know, terrible at guessing any ages – was talking to her mother about this flyer and a gust of wind from the departing train blew it to the edge of the platform. The girl was crestfallen. I made to fetch it myself, but a lightning fast man with a brolly, man and machine in one, managed to pin the flyer with the tip of the umbrella. He retrieved it heroically. The little girl’s face was one of joy.

If all that morning excellence wasn’t enough, I did have a guilty chuckle at a poor man who went to get on the bus to come up against the immovable focus of a London bus driver. The doors closed upon the denied passenger’s arm and right foot. He extricated his arm, but his foot was still stuck in the door, which he pulled free by employing the most perfectly comedic flapping of arms.

So that was my commute to work. And I’m still smiling.


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And my blood ran cold: the Rail Replacement Service

16/08/2010 at 4:56 am (Transport) (, , )

Public transport is my primary way of getting around. I accept that it is a mixed bag of people that range from the delightful to the undesirable. Over the last couple of months I’ve mainly travelled from my Berkshire base to London, and have – as a rule – had an okay travelling experience.

Yesterday, Sunday, I realised that I’d been having it easy too often. Getting into Reading I began to fear the worst. Half of the platforms were closed. This meant one thing. The rail replacement coach service.


Like an Alanis Morissette lyric waiting to happen, you only get to experience this extended sojourn through the dusky A roads of Britain when you’re at your most tired. Somehow, the seats seem smaller. Every passenger sounds louder. And there’s a radio.

Not a problem, I could handle this one. I had my iPod, I had my phone. Both had plenty of charge and I would be fine. Oh, but for one fellow traveller. There wasn’t actually anything particularly bad about this guy really, I suppose. It might seem a little like a double standard on my part, as I like a drink, but this guy was blitzed.

Pulling out a bottle of white wine from his holdall, he kindly offered me a swig. I refused. I’m not a fan of white wine, I wasn’t in a party mood, and a journey that’s been prolonged by twice the time it should be isn’t good for the bladder. Even after theatrically wiping the end of the bottle to clean off his spittle it didn’t entice me.

The coach journey continued, and he continued to talk to me. I nodded agreement several times, making positive noises. I had no idea of what he was talking about at all. Being polite, I turned my iPod off. Surreptitiously tweeting now and again I was able to share my burden and maintain my sanity.

The radio carried on its jaunty tunes, with “I Want To Break Free” in particular starting a mumbled, yet loud, singalong. At some point, perhaps aware he was beginning to outstay his welcome, this fella swapped places with his fiancée. I didn’t think this was so bad, as she clearly wasn’t nearly as pole-axed as her beau.

As we trundled into the sunset, she said, “I think the man I was sitting next to is a terrorist.” Interesting opening gambit of conversation. She continued, “he’s got cables going everywhere, one to a phone and one to some other stuff.” Well, I asked the obvious question. “Do you think it likely that a terrorist would target the 20.00 to Bedwyn?” She agreed it might be preposterous.

I made it home safe, obviously, but I do so very hate the replacement coach service. What worries me more, is that I may be that drunk mess next to you someday. If I am, pop your earphones in and ignore me – I won’t be offended.

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