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Fellow passengers

by DoDo Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:41:38 PM EST

As a traveller on public transport, my experience is that what can make life hell is chiefly fellow passengers. As Barbara wrote, fellow passengers are often anything but fellows. Below the fold, a small taxonomy of annoying fellows.

10. The Just-Made-It
Person who runs to catch a subway before doors close, and is then so happy s/he just made it that s/he stops right in the door – hence those also running to catch the same subway suffer a human traffic crash.

9. The Comfortable In His Place
Your bus arrives at stop and new passengers board. There is free space beyond you. You press yourself to the side of a seat and bend above the person sitting on it to make way for the new passengers to pass you. But the new passenger is comfortable in the place you just freed, even if you're not.

8. Young people in groups
Voice volume proportional to the square of the number of the group. Information content of what is said inversely proportional to the hour of the day.

Car corollary: rich kids in cars

7. The Bag-Woman
Woman wearing a handbag or a shopping bag, with said bag swinging. Woman doesn't notice bag rhythmically hits the leg of the neighbouring passenger. When she notices at last, she turns five degrees, bag continues to hit leg.

6. The homeless man
You'll detect him by seeing a 3-metre circle cleared as if someone dropped napalm. People flee the odour. Except new passengers who'll notice only after half a minute. Expect scandal if there's a Ranter around.

Car corollary: an old car in the traffic jam

5. The Ranter
The ranter is a loser of society with the special condition of speaking his/her thought-stream aloud. This thought-stream consists at least to 50% of cursing. The mildest version emits an unintelligible mumble except for the curses. More serious cases shout abuse at family members, boss, politicians; the chronic stage emits the most vile racist stuff. The Ranter comes in self-unaware and looking-for-attention versions, but for both, attempts to get him to stop (be it with arguments or pointing at children) will only be fuel on the fire.

4. The Edgy
Some people haven't yet become Ranters but are nervous wrecks. The outward sign is some repetitive motion, like drumming on the window, scratching their face, or rhythmically stroking the handle of their brief-case. Watching an Edgy makes one Edgy.

3. The Feet-Drummer
A severe case of the Edgy: s/he has to drum with their feet on the floor. Said floor will transmit the rhythm to the feet and seats of fellow passengers, accelerating their transformation into Edgies.

Car corollary: hip-hop fan with deep bass from his car radio across open window

2. The Tongue-less
I don't drink alcohol and don't know much about its effects upon severe consumption, but I observed one subtype of alcoholics: they apparently can't feel their tongues, so need to make certain they still have it with a loud squelch. Every half-minute or so.

1. The Walkman/Discman/Mpeg-Player/iPod-Listener
The perfect example to illustrate the issue of externalities. Usually a young male listening to techno/dance/trance, but also people from any age group; a special caste seems to be that of more massive young girls listening to heavy metal. If three of them enter a bus, they will do so on different doors, ensuring coverage on the whole bus. If you want to tell one to turn down the volume, s/he will be two metres from you on a vehicle crowded like sardines so that you can't get there, and if you look into his/her eyes, Buddha will look back.

Car corollary: cruisin' guys

Update [2006-11-24 1:18:55 by DoDo]: Forgot two more.

* The Smoker
Primarily a bus-specific plague. When a passenger: will take a last sip at his cigarette before boarding the bus, and then exhale into the air of the now closed passenger compartment. When a driver: will smoke in a non-airtight drivers' cabin. In the summer, he will even open his door towards the passengers to have more ventilation. In the winter, he doesn't want to open his window to puff smoke out due to the cold.

* The Satyr
Seeks body contact. I guess women could tell more about this kind. But there are also the typically older, fatter women who like to push up on men of any age, and even some apparently gay men. Inverse problem: some passengers in a crowd believe you are a satyr; this time being thought to be gay is the most frequent.

How many of them ahave you met?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 06:42:26 PM EST
I call people with iPods "iPod-people" after The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They are the most annoying people to encounter when I bike because they can't hear your bell and so force you to swerve aroundd them with the added rick that they might move just when you're passing them. [Note: I bike on narrow canal towpaths,  and regularly run the risk of pedalling headlong into the water because of iPod-people]

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Long before iPods there were the first Sony Walkmen.

My first wife ( a redoubtable lady) was on a packed District Line train from Wimbledon to Putney one hot sunny morning.

Next to her was a young lady with a brand new Walkman on full blast into headphones:

"Chink a chink a chink a chink......."

Everyone literally steaming.

Wife reaches over, gently lifts earphone.

"Excuse me, is that a Personal Stereo?"


"Well keep it fucking personal!"

General Applause, and rapid departure of miscreant from train.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 08:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barbara mentioned cell phoners in her diary; that's less frequent on buses/trams/subways/trains I travel on, but I saw something like you describe with phones. I was on a late, crowded train. A younger woman was calling every friend of her telling she'll be late. Then the also younger, yuppie-ish man sitting next to her got enough of it, and told her in the middle of a call to just stop it. 'There are other people on the train, no one cares about her private life, it is senseless to call everyone telling you're late, and I'm tellin' because your parents apparenlty failed to teach you.' She was non-plussed and stopped phoning.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:31:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was on the tube earlier this month.

Is there anyone in London under the age of forty who doesn't own an iPod, or - at a pinch - a mobile with an MP3 playlist?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 11:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 12:02:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

So - anyone else?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:06:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My ex-mother in law used to call them "Neurons perfusion"

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:25:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a feet drummer.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:10:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the Ranter suffer from Tourette's syndrome?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:04:07 PM EST
Some of the mildest form may be, but the more serious cases do have a subject of abuse, and my impression is that it's usually not inherited.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:24:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to do a similar breakdown of passengers as well, DoDo, so we must be on the same wavelength tonight. To your list I'd like to add

The Evangelist -- an over-the-hill individual who has nothing better to do than get on and off random buses to help us come to Jeeeeezes, otherwise we shall be dooooomed.


The Benevolent Mother -- an overweight female with unkempt hair and dreamy expression who is immune to/amused by the deafening roars of her offspring, who is usually old enough to know better.

"If you cannot say what you have to say in twenty minutes, you should go away and write a book about it." Lord Brabazon

by Barbara on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:14:47 PM EST
Oh, I do know the latter... but fortunately not the first. Do Evangelists haunt London's buses, or is that a memory from SoCal?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:32:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those of a nervous disposition may wish to move on to another diary....

!971. On the Tube. Late Saturday night. Last one back to Earl's Court Road. Crowded. One free seat on the opposing benches - even while people are standing.

I was about to sit down when I realised that the free seat was next to a slightly tawdrily dressed man who was exhibiting signs of being unable to retain the vast amounts of beer he had consumed. He looked at me. Half in compassion, half in deliberate identification wth the underdog, I sat down next to him.

For a few stops he was deliberately repressing the heaving in his stomach. Across the carriage there was nervousness. Next to him - me - and whoever was on the other side - there was a sense of impending doom.

It happened quite suddenly. half way to the Earl's Court stop - just a minute away. Our sad, ill-dressed representative of Post-Swinging London arched his body in an anticipatory curve of expellation and then sneezed. In full Gezundheit mode. He also vomited at the same time - the kind of beery. liquid vomit that has volume.

The bench of people opposite immediately got up in disoriented panic - to get off in total shock, leaving behind a cartoon trace of their presence upon the windows behind them. Various strap hangers in the vicinity also suffered convulsions of their own. Me - sitting next to the perp - was saved by the forward muzzle velocity of the event.

The Motto - 'Nobody knows the safest place'

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 23rd, 2006 at 07:58:25 PM EST

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