Tales From The Train

Mass transit is a wonderful thing. It decreases your carbon footprint, relieves the stress of traffic jams, and more often than not keeps to its schedule.

But mass transit also puts a whole bunch of people together in a confined space for long stretches of time, at the extremes of their day.  What you see isn’t always pretty.


People who ride mass transit, particularly the regional rail in and out of Philadelphia, are just not attractive.  I have no scientifically-obtained data to back this up, it’s just an observation.  Do all of the attractive people just gravitate to urban life because, you know, they’re just so gosh darn good-looking and their lives are like an episode of Girls?

Those who ride the train out of the city at 5:00pm every day are just kind of dumpy: potato-shaped with soft, almost indefinable features, like they’re made out of a Silly Putty that is just slightly misshapen from the day before.  Hairstyles are also a grab-bag of late nineties styles: hair piled high and wide and permed, or dyed a color orange not found even in the depths of the Sun.

And the unflattering clothing, especially on guys!  I’m not saying I’m Mr. GQ here, but, I’m sorry, if your dress shirt balloons wider at the hips than the length of your wingspan, you’re doing something wrong.

Train Buddies

Don’t talk to me on the train.  That is my decompression time, the only time during the day I get to be alone with my thoughts, and quite frankly, I would never be your friend in real life (though that truth applies to mostly…everyone), so don’t small talk me with observations about regional rail routes.  “Man, one day I think I’m gonna ride this train right out to the last stop,” this dude said to me once, as I tried with my mind powers to demonstrate how engrossed I was reading the advertisement at the end of the car. “Wouldn’t that be wild?”

For awhile I had a woman who would seek me out every day.  She’d get on at the stop after mine, and declared herself my designated “train buddy” on our second encounter.  “Welp,” she grinned, “I guess we’re train buddies now!”  She then proceeded to trap me in a conversation about…you got it, the regional rail system.

Do you all not understand how this works? Why on God’s green earth would I want to talk about the regional rail system? Am I wearing a conductor’s cap? Can’t you see I have headphones on?

Why can’t you see my headphones, you monsters?!

The Troll on the Train

I create arch-nemeses out of boredom and a pervasive sense of misanthropy, more than anything.

Case in point: the troll on the train.

Something about her really gets my goat.  She’s probably late fifties, early sixties, with an unruly crop of hair (go figure) and a little hobble to her walk.  And I’m not kidding: she has a grimace not unlike a witch.

At the end of the day, as all of us regular schlubs are standing around on the platform waiting for the 5:12, the troll is sitting down on a bench.  But, oh boy, as soon as the train approaches, she pushes her way past everybody else on the platform so that she can be the first on board.

Guess what, lady? We were all waiting in a more-or-less line on this platform, so no cutting!

Then, once she’s sitting down, she pulls out her iPhone and begins playing games…at full volume.  If I have to hear that bubbly shuffle of the Words With Friends tiles one more time…**breaks pen in frustration, then cries as the ink stains set in his clothing**

By far the worst, though, is the fact that she doesn’t answer her phone when it rings.  Fine, I can understand that, you don’t want to bother your fellow commuters with your phone call. How considerate!  Thank you, Ms. Troll, I appreciate your thoughtful–


It keeps ringing.  And ringing.

So, instead of actually answering the phone, the troll just lets it ring as she stares right at the phone.  BLERGH!

I guess I get some sick pleasure out of the fact that, at the end of every day, I see her climb into an Explorer that’s branded with a McCain/Palin bumpersticker.  Ha, ya loser! I think with a smirk.  How’s it feel to be a loser, loser?  Probably so sad that you can’t have a phone conversation without bursting into tears, so THAT’s why you let your cell phone ring and ring.

But then I remind myself that I can’t stand people who leave irrelevant political bumperstickers on their car.  You lost!  Why are you going around with a big ol’ “L”-sign stuck to your car?  Get it removed and address your shame with alcohol like a normal person! It’s so irritating BAAHHHHHHH!

My Spot

In the ‘burbs (I can speak to this because I’m an expert, you see), driving around on a moped is a little strange.  You’ve got five lanes of traffic and everything is like twenty miles away from everything else; a moped just isn’t practical (and, let’s face it, you look a little bit like a weirdo for driving one).

Yet, considering all of that, every once and a while a moped will chained up to the outer bike rack at the train station.

One day, the moped was nowhere to be found, and space at the rack was limited, so I locked my bike in one of the last available spots.

When I returned to retrieve my bike, the moped was back, as was its tweed-jacketed owner; he was parked right next to me.

I generally try to avoid interpersonal communication, so I slinked over, trying to unlock my bike as quickly as possible.

“Hello,” the professor said, as I fumbled with the key.

“Uh, hi,” I offered. I’m incredibly cognizant of how stupid I look in a bike helmet, so the less attention drawn my way the better.

“Just so you know,” the graying, bespectacled professor-type informs me, “I usually park here.”

 Umm…excuse me?
This was one of those situations where you come up with just the greatest comeback like 20 minutes after the opportunity passes by.  OOOH, the nerve of this guy!  This is your spot, huh? Oh, so that’s why I see your name on–oh, wait, no I don’t!
Don’t try to intimidate me with your Ph.D. in neo-classical studies. I’m not having it! The bike rack is first-come, first-serve, dude. DEMOCRACY!!!  EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLE…’s modes of transportation!!!!
So now I passive-aggressively park my bike there just to spite him.  Take that, old man!  I WIN!!!!!

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