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.