This morning, as I made it onto the train platform, my train pulled in bereft of passengers and filled with row upon row of empty seats. It’s moments like this that make commuting tolerable; the joy felt when you know you’re about to get another hour of slumber.
And just as my 12 carriage bed came to a stop and the enterprise doors opened I heard a “hello stranger” from behind me. I turned around and there was one of my neighbours.
“Oh hello, how are you?” I replied, uninterested in her answer.
“I’m fine thanks; are you catching the train?”
– pause –
It’s at this point that you need to understand how my brain works. There is a scene in ‘The Terminator’ when Mr Schwarzenegger is sitting on a cheap hotel bed doing Terminatory stuff when the hotel manager starts bashing on the door shouting, “hey buddy, you got a dead cat in there or what?” through a chewed up cigar. We then see Arnie’s viewpoint and he is presented with a choice of the following replies:
Please come back later
Fuck you, asshole
As you’d expect, he chooses the penultimate (and best) response. It’s a hilarious and memorable scene. If you haven’t seen it then shame on you. Rent it, watch it, come back.
Anyway, my brain works in a similar way, especially when faced with a comment or question that is so ballsachingly retarded (right up there with “are you still reading that book?”, “did those tattoos hurt?” and “are you really going to eat that?”). Often I also go for the penultimate (and best) response. On this occasion I went for “I am indeed, where are you off to?”
(Please don’t say London, please don’t say London, please don’t say London)
Don’t get me wrong; she’s a nice enough woman, but I don’t really know her that well. Plus I really, REALLY wanted to sleep. Now, instead, we’re sat opposite each other at a table in a confined metal tube going 80mph towards our nation’s capital. I miss the old slam-door trains….I could’ve just jumped off.
The conversation was painful. I mean painful. It consisted mostly of “how’s work?”, “I see you’ve got a new fence”, “what are you up to at the weekend?”, “how’s work?”, “ah, the next stop is….”, “I saw your other half the other day”, “I’m off to London for a training course” and “how’s work?”.
It was exhausting….which isn’t ideal for someone already in desperate need of sleep.
I tried all the tactics in the book to initiate silence, including taking massive interest in the passing scenery, checking my phone for messages, playing with my penis, etc…but it was all fruitless in stopping her relentlessly inane chatter. We even got onto the subject of how boring my commute must be every day. If she only knew.
The whole situation worsened when other commuters started filling the carriage. The suit next to me opened a book, the suit opposite me opened a broadsheet and STILL she continued with awkwardly selected topics of conversation. The issue now was the fact that I was now becoming ‘those people’ who don’t shut up talking on trains when you want to read (or sleep!). It’s not like I was doing it on purpose! I wanted to stop, but I felt that no-one believed me despite the fact that I now had my face fully pushed up against the glass to demonstrate my total and utter interest in the passing scenery….which at this point was the inside of a tunnel.
We were starting to get ‘the look’ from those around us. I know ‘the look’ as I’ve perfected it myself, usually just before the blog that inevitably would follow.
I have, however, learned something new from this morning’s experience. The face I make when I’m willing someone to shut the fuck up appears to be exactly the same as the one I make when I’m totally and utterly interested in everything they have to say.
I really have to work on that.