Train Etiquette

I don’t frequent trains, in fact I avoid them due to the fact I want to keep the money I earn rather than waste it all on extortionate fares. Yet, a good thing about trains, or more accurately the weird thing, is that I learn something new every time I get onto one. This is not because I read a different text book every time I travel to expand my general knowledge, as much as maybe I should. I’m sure most people are aware of what I have noticed,what I have noticed but I find the concept of being particularly polite on public transport  but I generally find the concept of being especially polite on public transport strange.

I recently travelled into London for an interview. The first thing I noticed were all the ‘single seaters’ kindly letting people sit next to them, moving their bags just to put a smile on someone’s face as they graciously thanked them for being so benevolent. Slowly the seats filled up and I found myself aware I had a camera kit in one seat and I was in the other. How could I be so thoughtless? The more people that filed onto the train the guiltier I felt. I could have thought, well I deserve two seats, there are surely many more available in this large and long mode of transport anyway. However, that day, it was sunny and I was in a reasonable mood, therefore my train etiquette was on top form. With two people standing behind me I thought, sure, I’ll make someone’s day mildly better. I lifted my bags onto the floor with great hardship and heaved myself to the window seat, knowing full well if I needed to get up before this person, it would be an extremely awkward experience I would want to swiftly forget. I did it and I felt proud. I saw the person approach my seat, I was looking out for the gratitude on his face. Instead what I saw was an average bag carelessly flung onto the seat beside me with an average face to match its owner. I was not impressed. My efforts to be kind were futile to this person laughing and having a great time standing up. I questioned why I did it. I questioned why I even felt the sensation of mild disappointment. So I moved on with my day hoping to look back with the memory of a successful interview.

The interview went great, and obviously was not the only thing I remembered. The train journey back I felt positive, up until the I was one stop away from my destination. We stopped at Chatham, all seemed normal, then I realised we had been stationary for a solid ten minutes. There was suddenly an announcement of a medical emergency, which is obviously going to happen at times, so was fine. Except maybe the fact I was less than five minutes away from Gillingham station, in need of the loo and left with 5% battery. Do I conserve battery or entertain myself with music? I chose listening to music on airplane mode, which was cutting it fine but I thought I could walk home with the knowledge of 2-3% of battery being left in case of an emergency. After 25 minutes we started moving again. The whole time this was happening, a women with a pushchair was next to me. It is inevitable that two children on a train are going to be loud and somewhat annoying. They are incapable of sitting in one place for too long so end up crawling around and abandoning their mini pack of raisons. That was not a major problem with the defence shield that are earphones and loud music. The problem was the obstruction to the doors when I was about to exit. After being delayed anyway I was not in a patient mood. I went up to get off my stop, at last, then blocked by a buggy. I was slightly worried what measures I would have to go to in order to get off at the right stop, but finally she moved. She looked apologetic with a hint of ‘I have a child I deserve to be in the way’. The poor mother people may think, she has enough to deal with. Yet I couldn’t help but grimace a dirty look and swiftly depart the train. I don’t regret it, she is not the queen of the train because she has a push chair. I am normally considerate but I saw someone opposite me looking worried they wouldn’t make it off either, my etiquette went out of the train doors as I minded the gap between the train and the platform.

I got home safely and overall this was a complete over reaction to which I am fully aware. I learned things, I would eventually progress my etiquette of offering seats, patience and kindness to mothers and children. Well, that is the goal. Actually, one I am almost certain will have to repeat and I will never learn from. What trumps etiquette is the general attitude of British people, they can either be very kind or a rage of ‘do not touch me’ after a long day of work. I for one am happy to balance the both for the rest of my life, no one is perfect and neither is South Eastern, therefore my conclusion is give up your seat sometimes and always give someone a dirty looking if they are making your life ever so slightly more inconvenient.