Today, someone sneezed on me.
I’m just going to let that one sink in. Luckily enough for you, all you have to absorb is the image. You are not the one thanking the powers of evolutionary biology for the gift of skin to protect from projectile assaults such as these.
The human body is prone to spontaneous malfunctions. On the basic level you have your coughing fits and the sneezes, before moving onto the more advanced malfunctions such as the random shudders and of course, the mini-vomit. The more pedantic of you at this point are probably pointing out that all of these serve some form of biological advantage, therefore not making them malfunctions. My point is, sometimes the body will do something we are not expecting. And that is totally forgivable.
(…unless perhaps you are living in the time of the plague, where sneezing was considered a symptom, prompting much less sympathy from those around you, I would imagine. You know a-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down, and all that…)
What makes such things forgivable is, as we all know, the recognised cultural paradigm associated with bodily malfunctions that alert those around you. The recognition of your action, the simple ‘Excuse Me’ will suffice. But sometimes your action may directly affect those around you, which is where the recognition is upgraded to an apology. The apology is a simple gesture, you are admitting you have done something disruptive and have acknowledged your mistake.
But the absence of an apology, that is where the decorum is broken, thrusting the wrong doer into a world of darkness, despair and a whole lot of judging from everyone else. And it is with this resounding splatter of mucus, that we get to today.
I will be forever thankful that I live in the SE, for I have been blessed by the incomparable services of Southeastern railway. As such, the commute to and from the metropolitan madness of London is just, totally… awful. If I got £1 for every time someone compared themselves to a sardine, I would be one wealthy young man. Although, the more I think about it, the more I think that comparison is unfair.Those sardines really don’t know just how good they’ve got it. But I digress.
I may well be one of the lucky people who can acquire themselves a seat on my trains, but it doesn’t mean I avoid the positively spellbinding effects of the sardine squeeze. In fact, I am sometimes subject to people who believe they can surreptitiously use my leg as a bag rest. And for some brave (slightly shorter) souls, they have risked using my lap as a seat. Bless them for trying, but they soon come to regret their decision.
The point I am making, if anything, is that the commuter train is busy. If you hadn’t guessed already.
Picture the scene, if you will:
The Train Traveller sits serenely in his seat on the train to Charing Cross. This seat is in no way too small and massively uncomfortable, not at all. As the train crawls at a pace slow enough to make a tortoise late, it reaches one of the multitude of stations along its route. A gentleman climbs aboard the already busy train, bunching himself close to the Train Traveller. The Train Traveller pays no attention. Why would he? The gentlemen is just another soul passing in the night (well, morning) after all.
As the lazy snake slithers back into life, the gentleman begins to check his pockets, becoming increasingly more frantic. It is at this point that the Train Traveller looks up, visually examining the gentleman for any sign of explanation as to his actions. It is, at this point, where the cruel realisation is thrust upon the Train Traveller.
For a brief second, the Train Traveller and the gentleman lock eyes, before the gentlemen’s eyes are forced shut and his head leans back. It was the work of a moment, but lasted a lifetime for the Train Traveller. In an explosive assault on the senses, the gentleman unleashed his army onto the Train Traveller. Many millions of mucus molecules were fired, locking onto their nearest target; the face of the Train Traveller.
I know, right? It feels like you were there. Luckily for you however, you weren’t.
It also means you didn’t have the absolute pleasure of a man sneezing in your face, looking right at you, before casually going back to his phone. No acknowledgement. No apology. Nothing.
Apparently, the ar****le of the situation was me. Apparently it was wrong of me to look expectantly (with a tinge of disgust) into the eyes of the gentleman. Apparently I should, in fact, be the person to apologise. Apparently.
If this wasn’t the case, why was the gentleman furiously questioning my eye contact? Why indeed was the gentlemen offering the worst of all British insults, the tut? It could only be, that I am the bad guy.
The world as we know it, is a vast expanse of matter, stretching beyond the confines of physical and conceptual thinking. Spaces exist that we could not even imagine. If indeed there is a place that resembles what many would call hell, I am booking you, fair gentleman onto the train. You, dearest fellow, deserve the one-way first class ticket I have purchased for you. There is a place reserved for you when you get there. You better hurry, they are waiting for you!