Last August I became a train commuter for the first time. Every job since the age of 17 I have driven to, with three exceptions – the first when I worked in the family restaurant, I walk up the garden path to that job; the second when I worked and lived in a hotel – that was a trip down a flight of stairs and the third when I worked from home – that was a trip up a flight of stairs.
My journey is an easy one; firstly a ten minute walk to the station – at the moment this is the most challenging part with the Brisbane heat and humidity levels turning me into a sticky, sweaty mess all before 7.30am. The station sits just below a junction where several lines converge so trains are frequent and I don’t wait longer than 5 minutes at peak times. The train ride itself is three stops, taking 9 minutes precisely followed by a two minute walk from Brisbane Central station. It’s easy and my entire trip takes no longer than 20-25 minutes. Now that I have settled into this routine I thought I’d share some of my observations with you.
- We are all creatures of habit – choosing to travel in the same carriage, use the same exit route, be it escalator or steps and use the same turnstiles.
- There is always someone in the carriage with a hacking cough. There is a second when the entire carriage holds a collective breathe, trying not to inhale the germs. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid Australian Flu and colds that are doing the rounds.
- 95% of passengers have their heads down scrolling, swiping, texting and listening on their electronic devices.
- I am not the only one wearing ‘travelling’ shoes, be it trainers or thongs – this looks particularly dashing with a dress or suit!
- When I have to stand, I am really self-conscious and feel the eyes of the 5% of passengers not scrolling, swiping, texting and listening on me. At this point I remember to engage my core muscles so if the train should suddenly jolt or brake, I won’t end up in some strangers lap.
- There is always someone who makes me wonder. I wonder what their story is and I wonder how their life is right now. Just the other day there was a woman – the high-flying executive type, who was applying her makeup as we travelled along. The foundation, the eye shadow, the mascara (this could be interesting I thought!) Then she took a zip-lock plastic bag out of her handbag containing her jewellery – rings, necklace and earrings. Had she overslept? But why would she bother to select and pack her jewellery if she was in a hurry. Had she spent the night at her lover’s house, taking just what she needed for her day at the office – her ‘essential supplies’? Yes, the latter, far more interesting.
- Sometimes in the mornings we are crammed in like tinned sardines only we’re not sardines because we’re hanging on to the hand-grips like chimpanzees.
- People still read good old-fashioned books – that’s some of the 5% who aren’t swiping, texting and listening or looking at me.
- I’m disappointed at how many rude people don’t give up their seats to pregnant women – because they’re too busy swiping, texting and listening to see – even the heavily pregnant woman standing next to me last week, whose rather large tummy was virtually poking a man in the face – SHAME ON YOU!
- The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast is in full swing and every morning we are subjected to loud announcements advising us to seek alternative ways of travelling to work because the trains are going to be rammo – yes ok then (said no one!)
- The brand new trains travel on the airport line to impress the tourists so I try to catch this one home if I can – still smells new and is lovely and sparkly!
What are your experiences as a commuter, are they similar?