Good morning, dear reader. How are you?
If you are a London-based commuter my heart goes out to you on this, the first full day of the tube strikes. What a nightmare. During the last strike it took me three hours on loads of horrible buses to do a forty minute journey. In hindsight, I wish I’d just hired a Segway and had a bit of fun getting to work.
Given that public transport is not huge amounts of fun at the best of times, I have decided to compile a list of ways to improve our lot. After all, if we are obliged to spend a couple of hours a day on trains, buses and enchanted broomsticks, we may as well have some fun with it. You’re a very busy person and your time is precious, so don’t waste those hours being bored or annoyed. Use the time to your advantage.
- That is Fascinating
Music is great, but if you’re listening to a podcast by these guys, for example, you will be learning about all kinds of fascinating things just by sitting on a train. Granted, when I listened to their podcasts on the way to work I tended to have a perpetual “surprised and intrigued” face that looked a bit odd to other people, but it’s hard to beat the feeling of having really learned something before 9am.
- Story Time
This one might just appeal to me and my friends because we’re all silly drama types who like making stuff up, but it’s basically a fun extension of people watching: make up stories in your head (ONLY in your head) about your fellow passengers. This one is particularly fun when there is an old lady on board, because I like to think that it’s the queen in disguise monitoring her loyal subjects. This is especially fun when you get to “Green Park – alight here for Buckingham Palace” and the old lady gets off the train. What more proof do you need?
- If You Had To
Again, this is almost definitely something that my friends and I are peculiarly drawn to, but it does pass the time. You have to select three people from the individuals in your carriage/on your bus whom you would spend the rest of your life with: marriage, kids, mortgage, everything. (Again, this is just in your head or, if playing with friends, in VERY quiet discussions.) The joy of this is that at each stop your selection pool changes, and the joy of playing this with male friends is that they take it incredibly seriously.
- Magic Tricks
If you commute for long enough you learn all sorts of transferable skills. You can essentially teach yourself Houdini-esque body contortions by boarding a train bound for Marylebone from Aylesbury before 8am, and ladies tend to get very good at applying make-up in extreme turbulence. Think of your commute as an opportunity to hone these magic tricks of yours, and be proud of yourself for mastering them. I personally am at Level 6: Liquid Eye Liner on the DLR.
- Make Someone Else’s Day
This is as fun for you as it is for the other person: smile at someone (BRIEFLY – this is England, for heaven’s sake), give up your seat, help an old lady with her granny shopper or a mum with her pushchair. It takes two seconds and you’re making someone else happy. Plus, you know, you can legitimately feel pretty smug for at least half an hour.
- This is My Stop
I have actually done this one on a lift before, but one day on a tube train (two seconds before my stop, obviously), I really want to open my handbag, peer into it and say “have you got enough air in there?” I will then close my handbag, look at the other passengers suspiciously and draw my handbag closer to myself in a fit of protective fear before sweeping off the train with a haughty sniff.
Have an absolute cracker of a Tuesday.