Thursday, November 17, 2011
A Commuting Cast of Characters
What’s the only thing worse than working every day? Why, getting there of course! Can you honestly think of one thing your co-workers and friends complain about more than their commute? I certainly can’t. Since I tend to find humor in most situations, I find a lot of humor in public transportation and the wide array of individuals with whom we must share the train, bus, boat and rail systems. After consulting some friends and long-time commuters, I’ve compiled a list of the cast of characters that make up your daily commute:
The too cool to hold on guy – Ain’t no stainless steel pole gonna hold down this guy. This subway surfer thinks his uncanny sense of balance is going to transcend the twists and turns of the underground rail system.
The lady trying to buy a bus ticket home – She’s not going home, she’s going straight to her drug dealer’s house to buy drugs with your money. Don’t be an idiot.
The sleeper – Is this sound asleep commuter a pro at waking up right before their train stop, or are they about to enter the REM cycle and sleep their way right to the last stop? The sleeper often wakes up to an empty train in a town far-away from home.
The commuting like it’s 1985 commuter - This creature of routine hasn’t changed up his commuting game for three decades. Instead of reading the news on a Smartphone, they lug in three papers, opening, crinkling and hitting fellow passengers in the face with their broadsheets, while spilling coffee out of their ancient travel mug.
The backpacker – Is this kid going to work or leaving for a month long European expedition? It sure feels like a month’s worth of clothes when his backpack smashes you in the face four times. Of course, the oblivious bonehead has no idea he’s taking out heads and knocking innocent commuters in the nose with every slight turn of his body.
The risk taker – The risk taker cheats death daily by way of the third rail with their daredevil style of walking far too close to the yellow line.
The Crazy Homeless Person – Being homeless isn’t funny, but they sure do some funny shiz! A few of my roommates had epic crazy homeless person commuting stories. My favorite: “The train had no A/C, it was mid-August and a homeless man on my train stripped down to his boxers while singing an “original song” about “drugs & alcohol” and then laid on the floor and started grabbing people’s feet.”
The Seat Runner - This guy laughs in the face of pregnant women looking for a seat. The guy/gal will run anyone over, pushing the handicapped and elderly out of the way for a seat.
The inappropriate cell-phone conversationalist – “Yeah, the rash is really bad.” This idiot thinks they’re wearing an invisible cloak when they have a cell phone to their ear. This inappropriate talker shares deep dark secrets with a captive audience of 60 silent commuters day after day. My favorite: The girl who chose to call Jet Blue customer service and rip them a new one on the 93 bus. The obnoxious woman was apparently the only person in Boston inconvenienced by a recent snowstorm. We listened to her verbally abuse the customer service rep continuously for 30-minutes. The one-sided conversation eventually led to my soft-spoken husband standing up and screaming an expletive at her.
The Talker - You don't know this person. You don't care to know this person. You go out of your way to ignore this person yet he/she will make every attempt to talk to someone, anyone who will listen. It may start with a look that says, "Can you believe how crowded this train is?" Don’t make eye contact. The talker will quickly delve into a one-sided conversation you will not be prepared to endure. Be on “Talker alert” during train delays and peak ridership events.
The Marathon Stair Climber – This train station-athlete owns the escalator, and he’s going to beat you to work - even if it means scaling the stairs of the longest escalator in town. Better move over to the right, fast, because this train station superstar is about to blow past you – and feel really good about themselves for doing it.
The Sniffler - Spring pollen, summer air conditioning, fall leaf mold, winter colds - this guy always sniffs and sneezes, and blows his nose...on you. Some may even pull out their CLOTH HANKIE, making the entire situation grosser than usual.
The Sports Fan – This person went to the Red Sox game today and they want you to know it! The Sports Fan is usually accompanied by a few frat boy type friends and drunk on draft beer. Depending on his level of inebriation, he may try to strike up a group sing-along of Sweet Caroline.
The Seat hog – This commuter rail rider sits in the three-seater and blocks the middle seat with his bag. The seat hog will not make eye contact when new riders come in at each stop. The train may be full every day, but this bold seat blocker thinks today is going to be the lucky day he’ll bask in two-seated bliss.
The First in line – You know this character, there she is everyday waiting at the end of the platform and running along the train as it arrives so she can be the first one on. This woman also thinks she knows exactly where the train doors will fall and will stands right in front of them and not let others off.
High School Harry – You went to high school with this commuter and you may have even been friends with them. Fast forward to 2011 and you pretend not to see this person and never exchange pleasantries.
The guy who just got out of jail and is trying to do the right thing – He usually gets on the train and yells out something like, “Excuse me ladies and gentleman, could I please have your attention for just a few seconds?” After he has everyone’s attention, he’ll blabber on about just getting out of jail and looking for a job, therefore thinking you should be proud of him, and your dollar will help him reach the next destination: applying for a job. It’s not all lies, he probably did just get out of jail. But, chances are he’ll be right back in the clink after he uses your money to buy drugs.
A special thanks to Dan, Jen, Cara, Chris, Maci and Lauren for sharing their epic commuting observations.
Be sure to post about the characters we missed in the comments section below.