There are over 8 million people living in London, according to a totally reliable (I don’t know if this is true but it sure feels like it is) website there are over 3 million people commuting into London every day.
Even though 3 million people sounds like a lot of people if you’ve ever experienced London Victoria during peak times, if you’ve been into any of the major stations in London, you’ll see how this number is possible. Sometimes it feels like at least a million of these people are on the same train as you.
Within that million you’re bound to get a wide range and types of people. I mean it’s not easy to find two exactly the same people in a small crowd so you can only expect that being on a train packed with people and their many belongings like large suitcases they just had to bring with them on a painfully busy commuter train.
Despite the knowledge of this, I still don’t understand why 99.9% of my train journeys involve me sitting next to the ‘weird guy’ on the train. I don’t mean small little quirks that people have that make them different in a cute sort of way, I actually mean bat shit crazy to the point where I actually believe walking the mountains and valleys we pass to get to work is a better alternative than what I’ve been subjected to in the past.
I wish I had noted down everything that has happened to me on my commutes to work, hell I should have monetized on that shit and written a book (BOOK IDEA FOR THE FUTURE), but there have been things that have happened that I would never ever have to write down, the image has been imprinted in my brain for the rest of my life, and now I want to share these experiences with you.
My most recent experience happened last week when I oh so innocently thought because I was not traveling during peak times I would have a rare relaxing journey. There I was sitting as far as possible from every other commuter, you know because I have severe social anxiety and also I don’t like other people. I basically had the compartment to myself and I was just so happy, it was literally seconds before the train was due to depart and as the doors made that beeping noise to signal it was going to close, a lady stood between the doors blocking them. Was she trying to keep them open for someone you’re probably asking yourself, nope, she did that just to keep them open. She then proceeded to walk through them and look all around the carriage. Please do not sit near me I prayed silently. As I watched her walk to the other end of the carriage I breathed a sigh of relief. A few seconds later she made her way to my side of the carriage, she got a phone call and stopped for a moment. She picked it up and she began screaming down the phone, I actually thought I was in some kind of movie. After screaming for an unjustified length of time she proceeded to talk very loudly down the phone to what I gathered was a man named Tom. Were they arguing? Were they having a passionate conversation? I have no idea, all I could really gather was she was feeling particularly emotional about something, I can’t say she was happy or sad because she seemed to be laughing at some points. As she continued her loud conversation, she ended up sitting right next to me. Not on the other side of the carriage, not a few rows from me, not even opposite me, she sat right next to me. I’m telling you there were only a small handful of people in my carriage, it was so empty that we all pretty much had at least 6 seats to ourselves, so why the heck did she choose to sit right next to me? The would be 16-minute train ride became 30 minutes because as luck would have it we were caught behind all of those red lights that you only hear about when you’re in a rush. I was subjected to 30 minutes of screaming and “Omg Tom that did not happen.”
By standards though that story pales in comparison to a train journey I had from East Croydon to Harrow.
It was a pleasant sunny day as I started my ridiculously early commute into work. I decided to detour from my normal journey and instead get 1 train that would get me almost as far as work. The trains are more inconvenient and take a hell of a long time but this particular day I just did not want to deal with all the barriers, people and I knew because of the train route I would be able to get on to the train and find a seat before the major bulk of commuters got on. I sat on a two-seater because I was feeling particularly brave and thought that surely if I only had one travel companion it wouldn’t be so bad. My god was I wrong. As soon as I got on someone followed behind me. A man in a suit and who smelled nicely of cologne. He ended up sitting next to me, at this point, there were still quite a lot of seats left over but I understood that he probably thought the same as me. The train would be filling up soon and he didn’t want to gamble at the chance of sitting next to some nightmare commuter. I didn’t mind sitting next to someone because I knew eventually someone would sit next to me, even if I tried my best to give off vibes that I did not want a companion. As the train chugged along we sat in silence, something caught both of our attentions and we both silently laughed to ourselves. You know, we basically had the perfect travel arrangement. Not speaking, not acknowledging each other but having the respect for each other that we didn’t make the other feel uncomfortable. Or so I thought. He struck up a conversation and whilst I was not in the mood (I never was) I thought, let me entertain this conversation because we were going to be sat next to each other for at least an hour and a half. As I turned to face him I saw him take his shoes off. I replied but continued to watch him uncertain of what he was doing, and then he reached into his bag and grabbed a pair of nail cutters. During our conversation he was cutting his toenails, I was within hitting range, of his toenails. Thankfully I was not hit but being subjected to that kind of ordeal is just cruel. It was so horrible that I almost cried but so ridiculous that I wanted to laugh. Who does that? In case you were wondering I only ever did that journey one more time after that, except it was to go home rather than going in and thankfully I have not seen him since.
There really are all kinds of people in this world and for some reason, I attract a lot of them. I’ve had someone sit down next to me on a very busy early morning train, and despite the all the hot sweaty bodies packed together in the carriage they have gotten out their eggs sandwiches, started eating it but between ever few bites they’ve spat their food out into a tissue. At one point someone looked at my travel companion and they simply replied ‘less calories’ as if it was some kind of explanation as to why they were eating egg sandwiches at 06:30 in the morning, sorry did I write eating? I meant regurgitating. I’ve had an elderly lady stand next to me, and I’ve been sitting on a one-seater, so I give up my seat for her and instead of sitting down she has placed her suitcase on the seat and continued to stand, no thanks given either might I add! I have on a number (5 times) of occasions had someone use my head as a book rest when I’ve been standing on a train.
I try my best to not talk to anyone unless I really have to. But on the occasions where I have tried to be polite and engage in a conversation someone else has started it has really fired back in my face. So far my running tally is I’ve had someone try to make me join their charity that really consisted of trying to raise enough money to buy a building in London so that big companies can’t occupy it, when I asked what they would do inside the building they replied confused simply saying ‘nothing, the point is that if we own the building no other company can have it.’ I’ve almost been lured into a cult, I’ve almost donated money to a very worthwhile cause of ‘I just need £10 to buy a pack of cigarettes’, I’ve almost been recruited into an internet scam (they didn’t disclose it as being a scam I just figured that one out for myself). On a daily basis, I’ve questioned the kind of people walking on the streets of London. Sitting next to a serial farter, the person who is really good blowing their nose for 30 minutes, people having big extravagant meals during peak times, people who insist on reading my book, people who play games with their volume turned on loud and without headphones in so that we all know he’s really good at playing angry birds. I’ve had so many religions recite some kind of speech to me; I cannot discriminate here because I’ve had a fair number of different ones.
Running contenders for weird people on the train include;
- The guy who tried to sell me one packet of tissues (from a multipack) and I asked if he was struggling with money, he replied yes so I tried to offer him a job interview and he ran away.
- The lady who seemed to be very put together until she opened up her bag and started feeding a pigeon that was hidden in her bag.
- A girl who started getting changed next to me, yes she did take her top off, yes I did look.
- The guy who took a telephone job interview and occasionally would throw some jokes in and would nudge me and wink as if I was in on the joke.
- The Dad who changed his daughter’s dirty nappy on the small table, on a train with no windows.
- The guy clearly high off his head that would count down from 100 that scared the living shit out of me, it wasn’t until he was doing his third countdown that I realized he was just high.
- The girl who asked me password recovery kinds of questions.
- The guy who tried to pick me up and then offered to give me a free flu jab (aren’t they free anyway?)
- The woman who left me with her 3 kids whilst she went somewhere, I’m hoping she went to the toilet (that was the last time I sat on those big rows of seats).
- An old man who showed me pictures of people and when I said ‘That’s a nice picture of your family’ he replied ‘they’re not my family, I just found these pictures on the seat earlier.’
My train nightmares will hopefully make for an interesting story someday; I’m bound to continue to grow my list of weird train stories, living in London, how can you not? If you have any weird and wonderful train journey stories I’d love to hear them! Comment below and share your stories with us.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love