Mass transit systems still dominate transportation systems in cities worldwide. Fast, safe, efficient and reliable, urban train systems also offer commuters an experience that can never compare to any other transport mode in the modern world. Train commuting to and from work has its own brand of sociology and commuter behaviors vary from one urban center to another. If you happen to be an avid observer of people going about their normal everyday business as commuters, the experience can be amusing.
Morning rush hour train rides are the most physically challenging. Long queues, packed turnstiles, jammed platforms, and even more packed train coaches allow you a peek into how the typical rat race morning starts. As personal spaces begin to shrink you begin to ponder on how awkward situations in packed train coaches can somehow sharpen your senses or make you do things in the following peculiar ways:
- Avoid direct eye contact. Forced to come face to face up close into strangers’ faces you find out about how instinctively good you are at not making direct eye contact with anyone else on the train. In the instances that your eyes stray about and you find someone else staring at you, you quickly look away embarrassed by that starer’s imagined intrusion. The situation can happen in reverse with you doing the staring at some unsuspecting commuter — and getting caught likewise.
- Sniff out cheap perfume. Morning rush commuters are a fresher smelling bunch. Sometimes you find yourself so entertained sniffing out familiar fragrances from copassengers. Is that an Armani or a Hugo Boss? No! It’s Ralph Lauren. Really. Most of the time, however, it’s plain old fabric conditioner or hairstyling gel aroma. Who are we kidding? We can sniff out cheap knock-off perfume from the real thing. The latter doesn’t make us feel like sneezing.
- Stealthily groping for your wallet. Jampacked coaches can sometimes throw you into sudden fits of pickpocket paranoia. Especially when you spot strange or sinister looking copassengers inching up too close for comfort into your already shrunk up personal space. As quick as your mind plays out an imagined hand digging into your back pocket, you do everything quickly but stealthily to get yours down there ahead of it. Just to be sure.
- The loud talker stare down. There will always be loud talkers in any train coach and they will always annoy you. They come in two major varieties. Those who engage in loud conversation with each other oblivious to everybody else on the train; and those who talk loudly while conversing over the phone. You try to stare them down to quiet things down a bit. That trick never works. So you pretend not to hear anything. Until you hear that familiar ring tone of yours and find out it’s your turn to receive some call on your business phone. You end up asking whomever it is on the other end of the line to speak in a louder voice — because it’s being drowned out by the train’s noise.
- Ooops! Wrong station! There will be days when a little sleep deprivation the previous night will get the better of you. Yes, you may have defied the law of inertia somehow for the past few station stops by standing half-asleep and with your look-‘ma-no-hands stunt with the handrails. But sudden jolts can have hilarious effects on half-awake commuters like you who may absent-mindedly walk out of train coaches and into the platform of a station two stops farther down the line!
- Alighting on autopilot. Central stations are where most people get on while last stops are where a lot of people get off trains. The latter on a truly packed day offers you this strange experience of being bodily removed from the train coach without much effort. You just let yourself be rushed out by all the other bodies as they flow out of the train like canned lemmings being cascaded by some chef into a greasy pan. Cool!
Henry Conrad is a 29-year-old game developer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aside from gaming and being a tech junky, he also dabbles in creative writing, which allows him to create great storylines and backgrounds for his characters. Follow me on Twitter and join me in Google +