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>The Nuisances of Public Transport

18 Feb


Whenever I step onto a bus I am faced with rows of people seated behind each, always occupying the window seat. Sitting next to a complete stranger is avoided at whatever cost. Imagine the social diseases one might catch. As if merely sitting behind someone instead of next to someone will protect you from the evils they have in store. I admit that I like the window seat because it gives me a better view of the road but apart from that, I don’t much care whether someone is sitting next to me or not. Live and let live.

So, when did we become so paranoid? People never talk to each other anymore. And when someone does speak to a neighbour, their conversation soon commandeers all quiet in the vicinity. It seems an unwritten rule that when you are travelling, you keep your mouth shut and choose from the following three options: 1) daydream/stare out the window, 2) read or 3) listen to music.

I have no problems whatsoever with those electing to spend their time with the first two options. They are a quiet and respectful kind of people. But then there are those dream of a career as a DJ. You’ve all encountered them, no doubt. The worst of all is the teenage variety. Especially because they are rarely alone. They stick together like a pack of wolves.

They come in the guise of a giggling schoolgirl and quickly go into full DJ-mode and play music from such inspiring artists as Rihanna. These creatures have never heard of headphones either so everyone is subjected to a concert of musical misery. Sometimes, they even feel compelled to sing along. They fail to comprehend that after a long day at the office, the last thing we want is to hear those brats belt out pop classics.

The somewhat less annoying version is the 20-something male listening to his Ipod/Iphone, oblivious to the fact that his volume is so high that everyone in a 100 feet radius can boogie to his favourite R&B or metal tracks. Those who favour dance music are worst of all since all you hear is a neverending beat. Thumpa thumpa thumpa thumpa. When I end up next to one, I actually change seats. These sort of beats are quite a distraction.

This morning, the man in question felt the need to tap his fingers along to the rhythm so the whole bottom portion of the bus constantly heard him drumming to the beat of his own annoyance. Oh, and did I mention he was reading, too? I imagined all sorts of insults I could throw at him. Why couldn’t he just read his bloody book? Do these people not realise that travellers looking for some peace and quiet cannot relax when their eardrums are under attack?

Another big nuisance is cell phones. Sure, we need them and they’ve become an essential part of our lives. I understand that and I don’t even mind someone making a quick phone call to let a friend or relative know they’re on their way. But for some, travelling affords them the time for long, enthusiastic conversations with everyone they’ve ever met. Do they really want a whole bus or train full of strangers to hear what they have to say? Apparently.

I believe in keeping your private life private so I always keep phone calls to a minimum when I’m on the road. I prefer the occasional text. Also, I’m not sure what bothers me the most: when I hear someone loudly chatting away in English or when they’re talking in some obscure language I cannot place. Both types of people are impossible to drown out as they manage to speak in such as a frequency as cannot be overcome by music, which would undoutedly push you into DJ territory.

And then there are those who do not know the concept of personal space. A while ago, I was on my way home and the bus was chock full with school children. I was standing near the exit and held on to the pole to keep my balance. A teenage boy was standing against the pole, completely covering it and languidly resting his head against it. He kept his head firmly in place, despite the fact that it pressed against my hand. I moved my hand down but there was no escaping him. His hair tickled my fingers and yet he did not move. Twat!

Cars are very expensive here because of the taxes and insurance but maybe it’d be worth it…