On trains you meet the funnest people (part 2)

Truly it’s the belligerent passengers that are the worst though. Most often on a British train there’s a sense of shared suffering, and people usually pitch in to help the doddery old lady to her seat, or the mother with a child and a heavy bag. If the train is packed or the air conditioning is broken (and in summer it’s usually both at once), there are quiet jokes shared amongst strangers at tables about how crazy it all is. The mad passenger fighting with their huge luggage up the carriage gets an exchange of knowing looks and a smile, from people glad that they’re already settled in their seats and don’t have to get involved.
The belligerent passengers though, they can spoil it for everyone, even those already installed in their seats and trying to block out the world with earphones and a book or laptop. Inevitably it’s a grumpy passenger looking to take out their frustrations on someone else, be they deserving or not. The luggage rack isn’t big enough. Someone stole my seat. The train is late so I’ll miss my connection. And so because they are suffering, the rest of the passengers must too. Complaining loudly and bitterly of course is known to accelerate the train and make up that delay, and expand the luggage rack. Or maybe it just compounds the misery which is probably already being felt by the other passengers, who have already accepted the fact that they are running late. And as for finding someone sitting in your seat, apologetically pointing this out will get you far further with a minimum of fuss.

I’m fairly sure that I’m not an especially lucky traveller. I have a decent share of missed or late trains, and while it doesn’t exactly make me the cheeriest soul in the world, I try to bear it with good grace. But I’ve never had a problem with luggage space, or seat reservations, or half of the things that plague these passengers, so I can’t help but feel that there’s some sort of karma working itself through there. It might seem petty, but I find myself thinking “Good”, when someone has missed a connection and has decided to take it out on a conductor who clearly has nothing to do with their problem.

As troubling as it is to witness the sheer unbridled ignorance and lack of concern for the effects their actions have on others that some of the passengers show though, it is at least comforting to see that the majority of my fellow travellers are actually just nice people. They just want to get to their destination with the minimum of fuss, like me.

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Last modified: February 06 2020.