In the final instalment of my Metro etiquette guide we’ll be looking at some of the things that are most likely to get you strung up by your fellow passengers.
I think it should be clear by now that the absolute last thing you should be doing whilst on The Metro is talking to strangers. Unfortunately, despite frequent warnings, Police patrolling the trains and the occasional vigilante group, some people still find it acceptable to try and chat to their neighbour.
How do you protect yourself from such deviants? The first line of defence is to have your own form of entertainment to hand as a deterrent. None of it is foolproof against the determined chatterer so what should you use to protect yourself?
The obvious thing would be to stick some earphones in but as with everything in life, there are rules. We do not want, need nor expect to hear your music so keep the volume down. If you are unsure as to whether people can hear your music, they undoubtedly can.
Now is probably a good time for a confession. I once had my earphones in and could barely hear my music so, confident that my neighbours couldn’t hear, I turned it up a bit more. It wasn’t much better. It was then that I realised that my earphones weren’t plugged in and not only was I subjecting my fellow passengers to Billy Bragg, I was increasing the volume so the whole carriage could hear. I mumbled my apologies and my obvious shame was the only thing that saved me from being kicked up and down the train.
You may think that wearing over ear headphones may prevent sound leakage. You would be right but there’s a fairly big chance that you look like a dick. If you are wearing expensive headphones, inevitably Beats, over a wooly hat then you are clearly a simpleton who has stumbled onto the Metro by accident whilst trying to find the bathroom. It is the equivalent of putting a jumper over the telly. Have a long hard think about what you have done then punch yourself in the face. Very hard.
None of us want to hear what you are listening to but even worse are the people who think we want to hear their rendition of it. Please don’t ever think it is acceptable to sing along, or dance, or play imaginary drums. I once witnessed a man singing along to Madonna and he was rightly identified by the rest of the carriage as a wrong un. He proved this beyond doubt but I shall return to him later.
You may wish to watch the latest episode of your favourite TV show on your iPad but once again, we don’t need to know about it. Keep your screen hidden, we don’t want any spoilers and you may not want us to be looking over your shoulder when your screen is full of tits and willies.
Probably the safest form of entertainment is to read a book (and I would strongly recommend Leg It and Idle Threats) but it isn’t without risk. Most people seem to read on Kindles or other similar devices and go about their business without bothering others. Reading is a solo pursuit but the determined talker will see the fact that you are reading as an invitation to speak. They will ask two questions “What are you reading?” and “Is it any good?” The answers if you feel like offering them are always the same as well. “A book” and “Fuck off.”
As difficult as you may find it when reading my books in public (or other equally amusing novels), try not to laugh out loud as you may come across as a bit of a mental.
If you are going to read a paperback (hardbacks whilst commuting are just wrong) the simple rule is to read something you want to read. This may sound obvious but there is a certain group, tossers I think they are called, will pretend to read something intellectual. They will occasionally nod and will always have their legs crossed. Never ever approach these people.
As someone who never did his homework at school, I consider anybody who gets a laptop out on the Metro as being someone a bit shit at their job who hasn’t met their deadlines. You don’t look important, you look incompetent. Is that how you want to be viewed? Put it away and look out of the window.
Unrelated to Metros but on a 45 minute flight to Brussels once, in the ten minute window between taking off, having a coffee and landing, I saw someone open a document on his laptop that had TOP SECRET stamped onto it. I’m sure he wanted to appear as if he was James Bond but appeared to be more James Corden.
I’m not going to spend any time discussing people who talk on mobiles on the Metro, we all know what we think of them but the person who decided to hold his whole conversation in the voice of a pirate, I hope someone has slit your throat with a cutlass.
Alighting the Metro
You’ve boarded the Metro like a veteran, you’ve survived your journey without killing or being killed by your fellow passengers for transgressions of the many rules, now all you need is to leave the train to complete the perfect journey.
But it isn’t as easy as all that. Timing is crucial.
Where you are seated and how busy the Metro is are both factors in your decision making.
Get up too early and you hang around the door like someone who is about to soil themselves. Now you may think that nobody would ever soil themselves on the Metro but I have witnessed it twice. First time was an elderly woman who I think did it out of spite. She left with a pleasant stain down the back of her beige slacks and the whole carriage screaming “NO!!!!” whenever someone attempted to sit in her now vacant seat. The second one was a youngish woman who was talking loudly about how happy she was to have just got out of prison and how she was going to celebrate. She then announced “Ah no, I’ve shat myself.” And she had. She stayed on for another two stops whilst we collectively held our noses.
If you leave it too late you run the risk of appearing like the type of nutter who would forget they had a kid and leave it in a supermarket.
There’s a special brand of ‘late leaver’ who wait until the buzzer sounds before making any attempt to leave. In my experience these almost exclusively seem to be the kids from the posh schools. Maybe their sense of entitlement makes them think the doors will wait for them. The buzzer goes and they begin to pick up their myriad of bags and wicker baskets before stepping off just as the doors shut. The girls add an extra element by hugging each and every one of their friends as if they are leaving to live on the other side of the world. Girls, I will let you into a secret, they are in your class, you will see them tomorrow.
Just before we alight the Metro blog for the last time, you may remember that I mentioned someone who sang along to Madonna. As annoying as he was, he joined forces with the posh kids for my favourite Metro moment of all time. Whilst singing and dancing to Madge, he neglected to notice that he was meant to be getting off at Fellgate. A loud “Oh shit!” announced his horror as the doors were closing and he made a lunge for them, stepping in a wicker basket, tripping and lying on the floor as doors closed on his head. All of his sins were forgiven for this genius moment of Metro comedy.