The morning commute is never an easy or a pleasant task. I’ve set aside a great deal of sympathy for those that have to board the train when it’s already full. Having to stand in a claustrophobic, sweaty carriage for 30 minutes does fill anyone with a sense of fear, dread and terror. But none of that excuses a rage-inducing absence of social decency, manners and spatial awareness. This is especially prevalent when this culminates in a hilariously over-sized handbag colliding with my head… repeatedly.
By the time the morning train gets to Hither Green, any ability for those at the station to enjoy a comfortable train ride to London has diminished into a distant, ever-fading hope. This morning, of course, was absolutely no different. Despite my complaints, I do feel for them. It’s almost unimaginable to think that one would have to part with a considerable chunk of their annual salary to be massively uncomfortable for a couple of hours each day. But don’t worry, at least these services would NEVER up their prices each year without improving the service. Can you imagine how bad that would be? No one would do that.
But I digress.
As my train pulls into Hither Green each morning, there is an unspoken tension, followed by a barely audible collective intake of breath. For everyone knows what’s coming; an angry hoard of commuters will soon launch their offensive onto the train, all of whom are determined that no man, woman, child or dog will be left behind. Oh, and in no way is the following representation an exaggeration of the truth…
Of the invading force that had now overtaken the train was a woman. This was a woman like any other. However, as soon as she climbed on board I discovered she possessed an item that set her apart from those around her: a handbag. This was no normal handbag. This handbag rivalled any holiday suitcase in size. And somehow, despite the fact that they were only going to work (I confirmed this fact when they took a phone call), this bag seemed about as full as a suitcase. I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for the events that followed I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the bag at all.
As this lady squeezed herself down the carriage, she ended up standing in the walkway between the sets of seats (as many often do). Usually at this juncture, a conscientious commuter would remove any bags, coats or adornments that would cause others discomfort or annoyance. But not her. That bag wasn’t going anywhere. It turns out I had come face-to-face with a real-life maverick. She wasn’t going to play by anyone’s rules.
I now faced the prospect of a journey filled with nothing but a sleeping man to my right and a face-full of bag to my left. Beautiful.
Upon closer inspection (let’s face it, with a bag that close to my face I had the time) I saw the bag was emblazoned with a logo. The logo that stood proudly upon its belly was that of Burberry. In case, like me, you would normally have no idea what this means, I have provided some visual support below:
You know, the stitching on these things really is something to behold. I nearly had time to count them all, if it wasn’t for what happened next.
A common feature about standing on any form of transport is the kinetic forces and their subsequent effect on balance. As such, it is difficult to stand perfectly still. This is made especially challenging when you spend every other minute fiddling with phones, pockets and anything else your mind can focus on.
If we now sprinkle in some simple physics, we reach the crux of my joyful experience this morning. The result of all this fidgeting and movement caused her Burberry bag to undergo a metamorphosis. This once simple bag was transformed into a wrecking ball of pain; a wrecking ball aimed directly at my face. And I mean seriously, what on earth did she have in there? It felt like I was being smacked by a block of concrete.
The hardwired British reaction in me called for me to sit and accept these ever hard-hitting blows to the face. However, this was one of those rare cases where my frustration outweighed my Britishness. It was time to act. So, as mouths fell open in disbelief around me, I vocalised my frustration. But of course, my frustration came out perfectly polite and well mannered. I am still British after all. My request was simple, I asked nothing more than for her to either move the bag or take it off. There was plenty of room on the floor.
Oh what a fool I was. How dare I ask her to remove her very expensive handbag and place it on the floor? I cannot believe how out of line my request to her was. After all, the floor is dirty and I had no idea just how much the bag was worth. Why should she have to move her bag when I could just move my head? I should have just rested up against the sleeping man next to me.
I really am one of THE most rude, disrespectful and generally unpleasant people. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just take my ignorance and shove it somewhere where the sun will never shine.
I really am the worst.