An observation during a train journey

A short post tonight, just wanted to get something off my chest that concerned me about a fellow travelling commuter who I have never seen before and may never see again.

I see many people of different shapes and sizes during my community journey at the beginning of each and at the end.   We are all squashed together, shoulder to shoulder, often also knee to knee,  invading each other’s personal space.  There is always a troop of commuters making their way down the carriages to locate the carriage with the comfortable two abreast seats.   You are lucky if you find one that is free, the majority of the carriages have thin, narrow  upright seating for three (small)  people on one side and two on the other, with the aisle so narrow you have to walk down it almost sideways.

This evening, for nearly 40 minutes, I sat opposite a man, who was probably no older than his late 30s.   He was working on a laptop precariously balanced on his lap and juggled calls between his iPhone and his Blackberry.   Unfortunately, he was grossly overweight, sweaty and had a nervous twitch which made him look as though he had something prickly in his collar.  First one shoulder went up, then the other and then he moved his head from side to side in a peculiar manner.   The poor man, looked as though he was going to peg out with stress any moment.

I noticed a very tight wedding ring on his left hand, and wondered what his life outside this Southern Rail sardine can was like.  What are the stresses and pressures he is under?   Is he mortgaged up to the hilt and has to work every hour God sends?   Is he so in fear of losing his job he has to put in every hour to prove his worth?  What does he do when he is not working?

When the train reached his station, I felt saddened as I watched this relatively young man squeeze his way sideways towards the exit.   I hope that he is happy, he certainly didn’t look it this evening.

What a shame that there is such pressure on so many these days.   Is it the economic climate or the fact that it is possible to use mobile technology anywhere and everywhere we go?   Does the business commuter  see travelling time as “unproductive or wasted”  time if  not continuing their working day outside the office?   There is barely enough room on a busy train to move an elbow, let alone struggle with balancing laptops  and a collection of mobile phones and Blackberries.

The vision of hamsters in a treadmill comes to mind!

Meanwhile, I am still quite happy just to look out of the window or read.

9 thoughts on “An observation during a train journey

  1. Like you, when on the bus I often wonder about the people around me. Who are they going home to? Why are they talking so loudly on their cell phones? What is so important they have to make call after call? Are these people who still look like teenagers really working on their careers?


  2. I would have been tempted to speak to him. Now you will never know. But we aren’t expected to speak to each other on trains. So sad. You could have tried one of the all time British favourites, the weather, the cup of tea or the terrible queues. Ha ha.


  3. I remember those days of leaving home at 6am clutching briefcase, suitcase laptop poised ready to work for 3 hours on the train, then 4 nights in a hotel & repeating the journey from home on Friday to get home. The company wanting more & more. Everyday a fight, until actually I had no more fight….

    I love people watching too, I wonder what people thought about my journey?


    1. Hello! Yes, it truly is the silver lining to what was a very very dark cloud. Thanks for asking. Everyone there is so nice, and it is a great modern office to work in. The words Feet and Fallen on, spring to mind. :-))


  4. far too many people appear to go through this phase of life, as I have noticed for many a year. I’m not sure when it started but I think Alan Whicker may have been close to knowing as he declared his original travelogues started when ‘Everybody started to chase the dollar’ which puts it somewhere in the late 60’s (bearing in mind my brain power nowadays)
    Perhaps then we should be more aware of and the meaning behind the poem ‘Leisure’ by W.H.Davies.


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