I spend a lot of time on buses and trains in London. After just over a year, I feel like I've seen it all, and yet I'm still surprised every week by something new. London, the city that keeps on giving...
The Social Media Mogul
This commuter obsessively flicks between Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest then back to Twitter, oh and a quick look back at Instagram for luck. Probably a blogger, possibly an Instagrammer trying to branch out, or maybe just a very passionate meme hunter. They’ve probably already attached their phone to a portable battery charger even though it’s only 8.45am, and if you pay close attention you may catch a data usage warning pop up mid-commute.
It’s best to just let this person go. You can pretty much guarantee this person isn’t allowed to access social media at work, or doesn’t have the time too, so they have to consume all the content they can in that fleeting commuter window. Don’t be the guy that gets in the middle of that shit.
The Serial Eye Contact Attempter
This commuter hasn’t yet got the memo about Londoners - we don’t make eye contact on public transport. It’s a simple and possibly harsh memo but it’s one we all participate in without question and beyond basic logic. Why? There’s just too many weirdos in this damn city and it’s better safe than sorry. This person is either a tourist, an out-of-towner here for a conference or just one of the aforementioned weirdos.
The only resolution here is to determinedly stare in the other direction, lest you accidentally lock eyes and the dreaded small talk ensues.
We all know one, we all loathe one, and if you don’t, then maybe you are one. A simple test is to look at the people either side of you to check if they’re pushed up against the wall just to get away from you. If the answer is “yes they’re currently so close to the wall they look like they’re trying to physically become part of the train/bus”, then chances are that you’re taking up far more space than you should be allowed to.
Don’t be that guy. Close your damn legs and allow those around you to continue living their life without being involuntarily touched by your sweaty thighs.
The Makeup Artist
A stronger woman than I am, this brave lady has mastered the art of perfect winged eyeliner while gently swaying with the sudden and unpredictable jerks of the London Underground. Braver still is the bus commuter gently applying mascara while the driver tries their best to run down and destroy every single cyclist currently dominating the bus lane. Full blown respect and also a mild sense of concern for this commuter, as I can barely avoid stabbing myself in the eye when sitting at my stationary chair in front of my bedroom mirror.
Admire from afar and be sure you don’t accidentally knock their arm mid-swipe.
The Barely Awake
Look, we’ve all been there. Commuting is hard, and it’s exhausting. Sometimes you realise you’ve spent so much time on this exact same bus this year that you wonder why you even have an expensive bedroom in a shitty flat that’s primarily used for storing your shit, and definitely not for sleeping in. Characterised by glazed over eyes and a tiny bit of drool in the corner of their mouth. This commuter’s head keeps bobbing up and down as they fight for consciousness and the ever-present fear they will nod off and miss their stop.
Best to sleeping dogs lie, as they say.
The Reader is studiously trying to make the most of their commute by pretending they’re literally anywhere else in the fiction and non-fiction universes. Whether they’re palming a Kindle or they’re a paperback traditionalist, they’ve mastered holding on for dear life while turning the pages with one hand. Otherwise they’ve twined their arms around the pole in a position that seems sure to break them at the slightest jolt.
Either way, come hell or high water they’re finishing that damn book and don’t you dare get in their way.
This lovely commuter is completely unconcerned about who in London hears the intimate details of their private lives. From what they ate to breakfast to who they met on the weekend and right through to who is sleeping with who, get prepared to suddenly know this person incredibly well. Even better is when they’re on FaceTime and / or loudspeaker with the person on the other end. Just so you can get both sides of the conversation - no need to fill in the blanks yourself!