Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Train Commuters

A checklist of some interesting folk you might observe while travelling via the public transport network.

Matrix Guy

A tall guy dressed in a long, black trench coat while wearing dark sunglasses. He is likely to be in the age range of 20-28 and does not show any form of emotion on his face. He will depart the train and walk away briskly while smoking some variety of expensive smelling cigarette. Additionally, he is also likely to be carrying an important looking briefcase. In my case, he was carrying green canvas bags – but you get the idea.

Eccentric Religious Person

A person who acts, dresses or behaves in a way that makes it seem like they belong to multiple religious orders at once. For example, someone dressed as a rabbi who is reading the Book of Tao, and has a ‘Jesus Loves You’ badge on their backpack.

Athlete on Steroids

A man dressed in Lycra who brings a bike, skateboard and possibly weights onto the train with him. There’s something not quite right about him. Maybe it’s the excess body hair, or the amount of sweat he’s losing? It’s most likely because he’s doing chin ups using the hand rails while train surfing on his skateboard.

New-Age Gamer

An athletic looking, reasonably dressed person who enjoys playing games. The tell tale signs include the suspect talking about a game, wearing game merchandise or actually playing a Nintendo DS. In my case, it was a guy wearing glasses with a Triforce of Power tattoo on one arm.

Stereotypical Gamer

Someone who is pale, wearing glasses and travelling alone who lists playing games as their hobby. Again the signs include wearing game merchandise or actually playing a Nintendo DS. These people are often soft-spoken and have an awkward aura about them.

Badass Gamer

A person with tattoos and body piercings who seems intimidating at first glance. When you finally hear them speak, they talk about how hard it was for them to stop raiding on their seventh level 80 WoW character.

The Reader

Someone who reads their book for the entire train trip without ever looking up once. You might feel curious about the interesting content of their literature and try to read the pages over their shoulder. But when you do, you realise that is just a marketing guide or something equally tedious.

Lost Senior Citizen

An elderly person who asks for your help about how to get to a certain station or how to use the ticket machine. Can be a ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day, if you are able to assist them.

Inquisitive Toddler

A young child who is usually seen travelling with one parent. Throughout the trip, he or she will point out various things they can see through the window. Occasionally the parent is asked what vulgar graffiti means, with the explanation often involving the words ‘bad’ and ‘crook.’ Not so nice if the child moves around a lot and kicks you repeatedly.

Bawling Baby

A baby which begins crying uncontrollably in a pram. All you can really do is smile awkwardly or try and stare out of a window for the remainder of the train trip. Hopefully the parent is carrying an emergency pacifier.

Stampede of Primary Schoolers

Children from different primary schools who are attending the same event by train. If you are lucky enough to get a seat early on, there is still the challenge of wading through them all to the train doors at your stop. The children usually chat amongst themselves about things like where their parents work or how their team won a soccer match, making you feel reminiscent of your own youth.

Anime Look-A-Likes

A striking looking individual who resembles an anime character. Such people are quite rare to see, and if you do spot one the impact will remain at the back of your mind for years to come. In my case, I have spotted three anime-lookalike guys in my lifetime. Two of them were of a lanky build and had one pierced ear. The third one was wearing contact lenses to give them one blue eye and one brown. Interestingly, I have never seen a female anime lookalike.

Pretty Woman

A woman who is beautiful, more so than any celebrity or similar person whom you have ever seen. Only one individual can be truly classified as a pretty woman at any point time. This depends entirely on your personal perception of ‘beautiful.’

Lovely Old Couple

A serene elderly couple sitting side by side. They might talk to one another briefly, or simply sit contentedly in a comfortable silence. Witnessing this warm atmosphere will cause you to appreciate your fellow human beings and wonder if you too will be in the same situation in another few decades.

Hipster Doofus

A young person aged from 16-25 who tries to create an illusion in which they are ‘cool’. They dress in brand name clothing and rest their feet on train seats. Many will be talking on their phones loudly exclaiming phrases such as, ‘And then he, like, dissed us!’ or ‘We’re going to every f***ing party there is mate, I don’t care where it is’. In a recent case, I overheard such a person aged around 25 complaining about having no money and continually taking cash from their mother and friends for buying beer. We can only hope that these individuals make up the smallest minority of today’s youth.

Sausage Roll Man

A robust-looking man attempting to eat a sausage roll on the train or tram. Has the potential to get quite messy, especially if tomato sauce is involved. Worse case scenario regarding just the sausage roll is where pastry flakes end up all over the said person’s face, torso and crotch. Tomato sauce can also end up everywhere, including being smeared down windows or running down doors.

Fare Evader

An entity catalysed by the boarding of ticket inspectors. Previously respectable looking passengers will begin to look around anxiously or sprint for the doors. You may also spot commuters who choose to behave like a fare evader just to see the disappointed face of a biased ticket inspector.

Emo Kid

A youth typically dressed all in black, with dyed black hair and wearing black eyeliner. They habitually listen to depressing music about taking pleasure in feeling pain. Occasionally you may come across one who is writing angsty poetry or has slash marks on their wrists.

Sketch Artist

Someone who happens to be sitting opposite you while drawing on a sketchpad. In some cases, you might notice that the artist is actually sketching a portrait of you. If you find the results unflattering, you can only hope they don’t publish it for the masses to see. Occasionally, if the artist realises that you know they are sketching your portrait, they will tear the page out of their sketchbook and present it to you as a gift. You should accept this and either get the sketch framed or burn it in the privacy of your own home.

Wannabe Rap Singer

A group of individuals who are attempting to be ‘gangster.’ Often they have body piercings, tattoos, and brightly dyed hair. Aboard the train, they will pull out a music device and play uncensored rap or hip hop music at full volume. Although this will irritate most passengers, nobody will dare to ask them to turn their music down. Sometimes they will bob their heads to the beat and sing along while making a devil gesture with their hands.

Foreign Conversationalists

Passengers who board the train in groups and sit together to talk amongst themselves, in a language other than English. Can be amusing if you are multilingual and can understand that they are actually having a heated dispute over the price of potatoes.

Truant Hoodlums

Young ruffians who carry skateboards and are skipping school to seem ‘cool’. They often swing around on the train handles, toss litter around and spout profanity. The most other passengers will do is glare at them from afar. And rightly so, as such hoodlums are probably carrying knives taped to their shins.

Friendly Immigrant

A friendly stranger who does not speak English as their first language, who chats to you aboard the train. Such pleasantries are rare in this busy metropolis where nobody recognises anybody else. Because of this, you may also find this experience awkward and out of place.

Dedicated Student

People who study diligently aboard the train. Often they are also dressed neatly but don’t wear expensive brands. They exhibit absolutely no signs of any smoking, drinking, clubbing or illegal drug habits. Compare and contrast to the ‘Hipster Doofus’ which are the opposites to these models of good society.

Publically Affectionate Lovers

A couple who chooses to show public displays of affection, typically in the form of making out on the train. They usually have a two metre radius of empty seats around them as other passengers try desperately to ignore them by looking out of the windows, playing with their phones, shifting uncomfortably, twiddling their thumbs, or fidgeting.

Smelly Man

A large man who boards the train on a hot day wearing a stained singlet and shorts. For the first three seconds everything is fine, but after the five second mark the entire carriage has been fumigated with the smell of his encrusted sweat. Watch in silent agony as the other commuters around you also try to pretend nothing is wrong.

Unlucky Ones

These are people who you overhear speaking about the tragedy in their lives. In my case, it was a woman whose boss was forcing her to work on a Saturday while her significant other needed serious medical attention. Since the lives of strangers are really none of your business, it’s probably best to just pretend you never heard anything at all.

Perverted Old Man

An older man who makes inappropriate comments or gestures about women. Most of the time it is lewd observations about physical features, but occasionally you find one that tries to poke rear ends with a cane or is trying to molest high school girls. There are also those who try to look up skirts and creeps who offer nudity if you’ll just accompany them around the corner. It’s probably best to just to make up an excuse and walk briskly in the opposite direction if you encounter individuals like these.

Angry Thug

An agitated looking person who look like they haven’t slept in years. Sometimes they will shout profanities, racial slurs, or other verbal abuse at the passengers around them. If this happens, all witnesses will look out of windows or at their shoes. Many individuals end up this way after ruining their lives with substance abuse or similar trauma, so you should probably treat them as mentally ill and remember that nothing they say has any real meaning. Should you decide to retaliate, be aware that they could be carrying illicit weapons.

Drunken Yobbo

Someone who is obviously under the influence of alcohol and unable to walk straight. They will instead use an unsteady swaying motion to board the train. Occasionally these people will be still carrying booze with them and continue to guzzle it down aboard the train. Some can be zoned out while others can be noisy. The louder ones should be avoided at all cost, as they can get you involved in drunken arguments or uncoordinated fist fights.

The Homeless

The homeless range from quite well spoken youths to toxic smelling vagrants. Some will walk down the carriages asking for spare change, while others will sit muttering gibberish to themselves. If one asks you for money and they clearly look like they have a substance abuse problem, tell them you never carry cash. Usually they are not dangerous to your safety, except when you meet one that smells of rotting cadavers. Should you come across one of these, you may be forced to depart the train and catch the next one depending on how badly you feel like passing out.

Happy Guy

A random guy who zigzags until he is directly in front of you while raising both arms into the air. This odd acknowledgement of your existence lasts for a split second before he continues to zip past. In my case, the gesture was also accompanied by an exclamation which I registered as ‘You beauty!’ Very odd indeed.

Disgruntled Bus Driver

A bus driver who is clearly fed up with their job, and as a consequence treat their passengers like dirt. I once boarded a Preston bus and my newly bought ticket would not validate. Upon witnessing this, the bus driver snatched the ticket from my hands, ripped it into small pieces, threw the remains onto the bus floor and stomped on them. Dear Mr. Preston bus driver, I hope you know that you still owe me a new two hour trip Metcard and a written apology.


Giant Cockroach

You may spot these resting in between the seat gaps, or trampled in the train doorway on rainy days. In my case, I picked up a fresh copy of a free newspaper some kind soul had left on a seat. When I read it up to the middle, I turned to the next page and a giant cockroach sat calmly in front of me. So I turned to the last pages of the paper to read the humour section, and then returned the newspaper with the cockroach still inside to the seat I had taken it from. I wonder how it’s doing now…


Sometimes butterflies fly into the train and flutter about the carriage. The common white ones seem to avoid passengers while the orange ones enjoy dive bombing at passenger heads. I had an orange butterfly harass me on a train for five minutes straight. I believe it was trying to suck the juices out of my leg, judging by how it acted. Finally, it ended up landing on another passenger’s bag and flew off into the distance after they departed the train.

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