Public transport is one of those necessary evils that many of us are forced to deal with on a daily basis. It’s generally cheaper than owning your own transport, provides easy access to work or college and, most importantly, gets you home when you’re a little tipsy. Plus you get to ride in cool buses, trains and trams. So where’s the problem?
People are the problem. By it’s very definition public transport is all inclusive and every trip is shared with your fellow populace. Some of the characters you meet will be charming and endearing, such as the kind-natured old man, or the young mother with her newborn baby. Then there are the folk you don’t even notice who shuffle on and off quietly and efficiently, heads down and eyes forward.
However, along with these polite and well mannered types come the weird and whacky characters. You’ll rarely notice them until it’s too late. You’ve taken your seat and you’re stuck in it. These torturous beasts seem to take pleasure in your discomfort or, even worse, they’re completely oblivious to it.
A few of the most common characters that you’re likely to meet include:
One of the easiest characters to spot as he’ll be completely kitted out with the latest gadgets and only too proud to display them. Over sized headphones, smart watch, fit band, iPhone, and if you’re really lucky, Google Glass. The problem with M.C. Tech Guy is he wants you to enjoy his gadgets too. Sure, he has over sized headphones on, but he’ll still turn the volume right up on his iPhone to watch whatever ridiculous YouTube clip he thinks will impress you. And of course he’ll share his love of loud music with everyone else on the bus. His music taste is impeccable and his playlist is epic. Expect it’s not, it’s terrible.
The need to eat on public transport always baffles me. Sure, if you’re trying to sneak in a sandwich between class and work then I can understand. But chowing down a bag of corn chips or pizza on a filthy train carriage is just irritating to those around you. The Noisy Eater does not care that their loud chomping is grating the nerves of fellow travelers. Nor do they realize that the smell of canned tuna in an enclosed space is nauseating. Perhaps if they’d ever been taught to close their mouth whilst they chew things may not be so bad.
She believes herself to be the trendiest girl in town and her social life is too amazing to be kept to herself. As she speaks to her agreeable friend she describes the most intimate details of her existence. Her thoughts and theories are obviously important enough for everyone in the vicinity to want to hear. She’s the Over Sharer. All you need is a 30 minute ride and you’ll know her loves, hates, hopes and dreams. In vivid detail.
You board the bus, squeeze down the aisle and take your seat. After a quick glance out the window you decide to reach in to your bag for you cell phone, but stop dead in your tracks. The first waft has graced your nostrils. Your eyes dart left and right, and the stench intensifies. Where is it coming from?? You spin around and there he is… the B.O. Bandit. This guy is like the phantom. You never saw him sitting right there behind you. Now his stench is near chewable and you’ve got a long way to go.
You’ll first notice Old Crazy Eyes after you take your seat and scan the people in the carriage: Kid on his cell, couple talking, mother showing her child something out the window, guy staring at you, … oh crap! First you attempt ignorance, diverting your gaze out the window and focusing intently on absolutely anything. After a few deep breaths and once your panic sweating has slowed, you risk a glance back towards him. Still staring, straight at you. Appears to be either offering you an odd grin or attempting to pass wind. The rest of your trip is spent fidgeting, sweating, and re-evaluating the necessity for you to ever leave the safety of your home again.
Aww at first they seem so cute, those class cutting free spirits just kicking back with their buddies. You remember being that age and thinking you were so damn high and mighty. But now it’s just irritating. Repetitive conversations about how even the most simple life event is “so random” are only the tip of the iceberg. Childish jokes, hyper excitement, squealing, and the mix of cheap perfumes all combine to remind you why you hate these guys: because they’re young and care free. Jerks.
As you kick back in your seat and prepare to tune out for your ride, his cell rings. He’s probably the most important guy on the bus or train. Certainly in his own mind. He’s kicking goals and closing deals and no volume increase in your headphones could ever drown out his voice. If you’re particularly unlucky this character can be combined with an Over Sharer to form a fog horn of annoyance.
She didn’t bring her own magazine but she’s more than happy to take a peek at yours. In fact, she’ll read your newspaper, book, emails, text messages and just about anything else you are game to place within her sight. She’s the Sneaky Reader, often quick to divert her gaze to prevent being caught. The more daring Sneaky Readers will actually take pleasure in being caught, offering a self-righteous grin as you awkwardly shuffle to face away from them.
My gentlemen friends, why is it that some of you appear incapable of sitting without a 90 degree angle between your legs? You shuffle on board, find your seat and sit down, then boom! Springing like a mouse trap, your knees separate three feet and you become the Space Invader. Yet, you seem completely oblivious as your hairy man-knee grates like sandpaper on my leg.
Also known as The “I am too good for public transport and I am only here to prove to a friend I can ride a bus” Person. They convey an air of confidence and seem to genuinely enjoy the sights and sounds of the journey, often pointing out city landmarks and praising the efficiency of an environmentally friendly mass transit system. Post journey they may excuse themselves for a quick bathroom break, highlighted by fits of panic breathing and furious hand washing. They wear specially selected “bus pants” which can be trashed/burnt the moment they get off the bus.
At first glance The Sleeper is just a quiet and harmless little guy, trying to catch a quick power nap to recharge before they get home. You can’t possibly be inconvenienced by someone who is asleep, right? Then comes the first head wobble, and another. Whoa… they nearly hit your shoulder that time. Finally they fall in to a comfortable position and the crisis is over. Until that first snore. The Sleeper’s head is turned in your direction, eyes closed tight and mouth wide open. Each breath rattles your ear drums as fellow passengers begin turning to face you, insinuating you are now somehow responsible for ending this ungodly racket.
One major drawback of public transport has always been the risk of being caught in a confined air space with a Sick Sniffler. You dread to think what type of disastrous immune crushing nasties are being transmitted by this germ junkie as they cough and splutter in your direction. They’re smugly aware of your discomfort yet safe in the knowledge that you won’t risk getting close enough to slap them.
Generally always seen in couples, The Exhibitionist is only too proud to display their love to the world. Kissing, ear nibbling, touching, and rubbing are all OK for these guys. God forbid you are actually stuck close enough to hear all those sweet nothings they’re whispering. There is no need to publicly display affection for your partner whilst I sit three feet in front of you. Yes, you are a great couple and will live happily ever after. Please do not attempt to make babies on this bus, at least until I get off.
He takes up an entire seat, all spread out and relaxed. Yet he’s no human. He’s a back pack. And his lazy owner is more than happy to let him kick back on a seat whilst you stand there glaring.
Special mention – technically not yet *on* public transport, but easily the most annoying: The “I don’t care that you’re not off yet, I’m getting on”