It’s Thursday morning, between 6 and 7, and almost Christmas. I have only a handful of 2010 commutes left. Snow is on the way though. My flight home, for Christmas in Cork, is in jeopardy, work is busy, time is running out and I have a performance review this afternoon. Luckily I’m reading a good book, cooked my best ever chilli last night (still burned the pot), and am sitting in my favourite seat on the train. I’m a little stressed but things could be worse I think.
Enter a twitching man.
There’s something about him. I don’t know if it’s the dreadful trainers, the very blue jeans or the gold chain that’s dangling from his neck but there’s definitely something about him. He boards the carriage and like a jerk looks for a seat. He plops alongside me.
He smells of cigarettes.
The smell of fags mixed with morning damp is revolting.
He leafs through his Metro like he’s inspecting legal documents. He’s back and forth, fidgeting with himself, up, down, cough, sniff.
I can’t read like this. It’s Thursday morning, how did I end up spending what should be the most civilised part of the day in the company of halfwits like this?
His phone rings, blessed relief for the poor bastard, finally he has something that’s easy to concentrate on. It’s a dreadful ring tone; commercial dance/hip hop, the kind you’d hear in a niteclub for the thick and the lonely.
“Alright mate” He’s faux cockney and a shouter.
It appears the caller is returning an earlier missed call.
“I was just checking if you were still on for tonight”
It’s only slightly after 7 am.
The conversation continues loudly, and infuriatingly. His friend is still able to meet after work – at least 8 hours from now – but is unsure about how to get to their previously agreed rendezvous point. Bad news for those within earshot, in this case the entire carriage, I’m bearing a fair brunt of it though.
“You need the get 9-1-9 mate”
“Nah, it’s easy. The 9-1-9, right by the chemist. You know the chemist on the Bells Road, it stops right outside there”
He looks at his phone. I notice his screensaver is a woman in a purple bikini. She looks pretty. I wonder if it’s his girlfriend. Some girls have dreadful taste in my experience so I wouldn’t be surprised.
He calls back.
“Yeah mate, it went crap I don’t know why.”
I don’t know why a man with a voice as dreadful as this one gets to talk on the phone.
He has a way of saying that number. I want to scream at him. Can I stress again that it’s about ten past seven in the morning. PHONE HIM AT LUNCH TIME YOU FUCKWIT, I want to scream.
To othersI must look like another listless passenger but on the inside I am full of rage.
“You know where you work”
Moron, moron, moron.
“Well, you turn right, go onto Bells Road, keep going, yeah, and you know the chemist on the right, the bus stops right there”
“Yeah, the chemist, on the right the bus stops right there, just get on the bus”
Honestly, I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.
My book, long forgotten, is put into my bag and I myself begin to get fidgety. What station are we at? It’s too dark and there are too many people blocking the window. The time on my phone tells me it’s almost time to switch to the Underground.
I get up, train still moving, and squeeze past the offensive one. He’s still blathering.
“So we’re going to the King’s Crown, well the 9-1-9 stops right outside…get out there”
As I pass him, I have the urge to squeeze his head and shout in his face, but I don’t, because there are certain things one shouldn’t do on a train or tube.
The review goes well and later that week my flight leaves on time.