I always think that if you’re going to make a major change to your life, you might as well make two at the same time. Last year, Mary and I got married in March, and moved into our new house in July. This year, we had our baby in June, and I decided that would be the best time in the world to start a new job which meant quadrupling my journey time. Genius. It does have its upsides – I’m a developer who’s allowed to develop nowadays, and the 90 minutes of uninterrupted train time do have their uses if you’re the kind of person who can sleep on a train, and your nighttimes are being punctuated by nocturnal dummy hunts.
The downsides are plenty though, and I’m not even counting the obvious ones about being away from home, missing the family, etc etc. Let’s start with the biggest problem every commuter encounters: other commuters. I think there’s enough raw material here for a few posts, so for this one I’m just going to concentrate on one small subsection of my fellow commuters: the Phone People.
The Phone People are those people who spend every spare penny of their wage on a top rate mobile phone contract, and feel obliged to use every one of their 4,5001 ‘free’ minutes every month. They’re the ones who board the train with the phone pinned to their ear, and are still there, spouting nothing into it 90 minutes later when I get off. They speak about nothing, to everybody in their phonebook. There’s a girl who gets on my train in the evenings who starts planning what she’s going to wear at the weekend on Tuesday. And when she’s finished telling friend 1 that it’s going to be the sparkly gold top with the big wide belt, we have to listen as she tells friend 2 that it’s going to be the sparkly gold top with the big wide belt. And then friend 3. And then friends 4, 5 and 6. And then her (obviously) long-suffering boyfriend. She probably continues, but by this point in the journey I, along with most of the rest of the carriage, have given up trying to sleep or read and have donned headphones in an attempt to block out her inanity. I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes on to inform the emergency services of her intended wardrobe for the weekend so that they can stock up on the right kind of replacement heels…
I’ve digressed slightly and got a little bit personal. If you recognise yourself from that description, then please, for the love of everything that is good and right, shut up when you’re on the train… Thanks.
Back to the point, the Phone People are just pure irritation. I think the train companies should introduce something like ‘Annoyance Free’ carriages, where carrying a non-silent phone would be grounds for some serious tutting, and speaking into it would get you turfed out at the next station. I really do think that on a 12-carriage train, they’d need about 11 ‘Annoyance Free’ carriages.
Obviously, for this to work, you need someone to judge what is annoying and what isn’t. I’d gladly give up some of my train time to make the world a better, quieter place…
1 4,500 minutes. Strangely enough, 4,500 minutes is about the amount of time I spend travelling home from London in one month. I reckon most Phone People must have contracts that mean that they have to spend at least that long on the phone. I mean, they must also use the phone when I’m not within earshot, right?