Over the years, I have had the pleasure (and at times displeasure) to have travelled a lot with my job. In the past this involved a lot of overseas travel, the need for which, many people considered me to be very fortunate. I can assure you that, aside from the odd long-haul business class flight to Hong Kong or Johannesburg, the novelty very quickly wears off.
Overseas work travel is mainly a thankless, unglamorous round of crack of dawn taxis, packed airport lounges, sweaty, cramped planes, non-descript, basic hotel rooms and very little opportunity for down-time or sight-seeing.
My air-miles days are well and truly behind me now, but I still endure fairly regular trips by rail to London. Domestic train travel may well be a world away from foreign air travel, but the two do have one major aspect in common – pain in the arse passengers!
Aside, from a train derailing or a plane falling out of the sky – which, to be fair, doesn’t happen all that often, unless you’re really unlucky – it is generally other people that ruin the travel experience. On planes, the confined spaces limit your interaction with a lot of the berks you could come across, but I am finding that it isn’t so easy to escape them on trains.
Here are five types of prat that I regularly encounter between Wigan North Western and London Euston stations.
The Moaner – This person is never happy with any aspect of their journey and I am certain that he or she sets off with express intention of arriving at their destination as pissed off and angry as possible. They will normally start by complaining that you are sat in their reserved seat and, despite the fact that you are both sat at the same table, insist on swapping because they “cannot possibly travel with their back to the direction of travel”. I immediately despise anyone who is that flaky. Woe betide the guard should the train actually be delayed even for a few minutes because this dullard will kick-off big-time. I do not fall into this category of passenger as, despite my apparent bluster and bravado when sitting behind a keyboard, I’m a bit of a wimp and a pussy in real life.
The Snoozer – Why do so many people who take trains to London need so much sleep? Perhaps they can’t sleep the night before for fear of missing the train. Whatever the reason, if you are the type of person that cannot manage a two-hour train journey without falling into a deep sleep, please try not to book an aisle seat so that we are forced to climb over you, don’t slump on the table with your skanky hair all over the place, don’t snore, twitch, gape open-mouthed or dribble saliva down your chin. It’s not big and it certainly isn’t attractive. I don’t fall into this category of passenger either – I simply cannot sleep on trains or planes. I once flew to Melbourne and had a total of about twenty minute’s kip throughout the whole journey. I did, however, down about thirty gin and tonics.
The Workaholic – Ah, you all know this arsehole. He (or often, she) has a mobile phone, a tablet or iPhone plus a laptop spread out across every inch of the table they can claim without fear of being punched. They are constantly checking the amount of free wifi they have left, or the amount of laptop battery charge remaining, because the whole world would clearly grind to a halt if they were to lose power. In the vast majority of cases, however, all they have been doing is flicking up and down their mailbox without actually responding or creating anything new. And that is just the ones who are actually offering up some pretence of work. Most are just fannying about on Facebook, or browsing the BBC. Don’t let them kid you they are actually working. It’s nigh on impossible to work productively on a train. For the record, I do fall into this category.
The Gobby Namedropper – “I’M ON THE TRAIN!” Why do people insist on starting a telephone conversation with this? You wouldn’t dream of starting one with “I’m sat on the couch” or “I’m sat at my desk at work , as per usual“ would you? Of course not. This stock phrase is the preserve of the self-important gobshite who feels the need to have conversations with colleagues or clients at 7am, before you’ve even pulled out of Warrington Bank Quay station. Why? They wouldn’t dream of phoning these people at 7am if they were sat at their desks. Firstly, because they would never, ever be at their desk at 7am and, secondly, because they would probably be told where to get off – and by that, I don’t mean Warrington Bank Quay station. I definitely do not fall into this category. I am a bloke, and therefore only willingly use a phone to organise a taxi to or from the pub, or to text a smutty joke to other blokes in my address book.
The free-loader – You only ever encounter this person in First Class and it’s usually on the return journey. It is the only time you will find a commuter actually willing the journey home to be delayed so that they can shovel more free booze down their neck before it’s time to disembark and jump in the taxi home. When the drinks trolley comes around they will grab a gin and tonic as an aperitif and will order whatever main dinner course is on offer so that they can also snaffle a free bottle of wine to go with it. They will subsequently order cheese and biscuits because, despite never normally touching the stuff, you are offered a bottle of port with this option. For the bulk of the rest of the journey they will sit cross-legged, as they cannot go to the toilet for fear of missing the next appearance of the drinks trolley. I am the dictionary definition of a person in this category – in fact, I have just described every single one of my London Euston to Wigan North Western homeward journeys. Well, at least I’m honest.
See you on the ice – Griff