Friday, 29 October 2010

Gaining Pounds

It's been an age since I've contributed to my body of blog work, and just when you'll think this post is about my not-so-triumphant return to Weight Watchers, I've found a job with a salary attached to it.  For this shiny new job, I am required to travel by train to Cambridge each day.  It is a 50-minute ride, which has introduced me to the world of commuting.

Commuting is an alternate universe. In it, the people you see everyday are barred by an unwritten code of commuter conduct that prohibits any more communication than the occasional sideways glance that could pass as an acknowledgement.

The world of commuting can be quite lonely, a fact I find ironic in light of being surrounded by scores of other people. There have been days that I craved contact in the sea of humans, but this usually resulted in no more than a show-pony, peroxide blonde woman dragging her overloaded pullman luggage over most of my left foot's tarsal bones. She snapped a curt, "Sorry," but it didn't really register, as my eyes were crossed and I was rendered incapable of making any noise that could pass as human speech.

Commuters get quite testy over seating in crowded situations. A middle-aged man barked, "Fine, you take it!" to a young girl who happened to get to the last seat on the traincar before him. If he was this irate before 9 a.m., I think I'm correct to assume the rest of his day was doomed to be miserable. I'd noticed a number of people carrying bags that said "Bench" on them. Chumley informed me this is a trendy urban brand, far too hip for me to recognize. At first, I thought it was some English attempt to reserve seating at the station, knowing that most were far too polite to take open and notorious possession of a cramped seat. Did they sell these special accessories at some secret commuter gift shop? More importantly, did they ship in time for Christmas?

Commuting starts to form a very familiar pattern: drop off, ticket check, platform dash, wait. The atmosphere is all the while seasoned with well-rehearsed platform announcements that half the time are unintelligible. Either the announcer is new to the English language, the announcer is from Liverpool (also making him new to the English language), or the announcer has a pressing engagement with the refreshment trolley woman somewhere behind platform 2a. In the case that the announcement is intellgible, they are made with such a blah de vive that they effectively suck away any enthusiasm for one's destination, much like an emotional Dyson.

I was walking briskly to my train one morning, when I was subjected to the following station-wide announcement: "The train now arriving at Platform 4 will form the 0-800 service to Norwich, calling at March, Ely, Thetford, and... braaaaaach!" At the time, my head happened to be within three feet of the nearest loudspeaker, so there was no mistaking what had happened. The announcer had just belched into the PA.

I tell you, those train station bacon rolls are deadly.