Ahhh! The life of a commuter; the idyllic romance of a tra journey! The gates shut automatically as the train is about to take you on a wild rollercoaster ride, and it will choose to let you in or out. It almost seems like a giant psychological experiment. How can people invade each other’s personal space, and yet act uninterested. Breath in, balancing their bags between their legs, they try to open the daily newspaper. Newspapers and commuter trains, now that’s a match made in heaven.
The skill required is to open the deeply embedded sports section with one hand, while trying to avoid smacking people in the faces with it. This skill is acquired by the modern commuter, with sheer practice. Surely catching the early train to the office has to be the adrenalin junkie’s greatest test. Managing the awkward social silences, physical maneuvering through crowds of people, conflict avoidance, and throwing the occasional tantrum and skipping away quickly before the big man can catch you is another skill, I hone everyday. My training starts here — as the train moves, turns, shoving us against each other to test our boundaries of irritation, for the brief 20 minute journey we are all one entity.
It shudders to a halt, the momentum throwing us forward as if to snap us out of our mass hypnosis. You either give way or you are carried with the crowd. The only choice is to resist or evade. The morning train journey is a microcosm of modern day life – sweaty, chaotic and it sometimes stinks but you take the ride anyway.