22 commuter woes AKA how ‘not’ to behave on public transport


Commuting can do funny things to you. My commute is currently 1.5 hours per day, each way – as long as there aren’t strikes/accidents/poorly conductors, that is…

I was always fairly ‘aware’ before, but my daily journey has led me into new depths of ‘people-watching’. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many types of commuter. Or maybe we can change, chameleon-like, between groups depending on the day/our mood/the weather. I’d say I’m a fairly passive commuter, happy enough to type, read or stare out a window.

But, lean on a pole when I need to hold onto it, and you’ll see me morph into a ‘tutter’. Step on my foot and you’ll hear me tell you off. Need my seat? Watch me turn red with embarrassment as I scramble to be the first to give it up for you. So, here are the variable categories I’ve rounded up. Let me know, by commenting below, if I’ve missed any gems off…


1. The ‘indescribable feeling of guilt as soon as you see them’ commuter. These include person with pram, child or crutch. Also, elderly, unsteady on their feet, type people. Generally people you see and wonder ‘why on earth are you travelling at peak hours’, for? You know, the people who you would give your seat up for but you can’t get there quick enough before someone else does it and you have to sit in shame for the rest of your journey.

2. The angry rucksack wearer. Ask them to take off their bag at your peril. No matter how politely you ask, you’ll probably be ignored or met with a smart remark about you taking up a similar amount of room with your handbag/case/child/beer belly.

3. The passive ‘tutter’. You won’t always see this person but you will hear them. Tutting at anything and everything from a person pressing the ‘door open’ button, (obviously not from London, *tut*), to trains being cancelled, (bloody Southern Rail, *tut*), and daring to sit next to them, (there’s seats free ALL OVER this carriage, *TUT*)

4. The one who sits next to you when there are seats all over the rest of the carriage/bus. WHY?

5. The sniffer. Forgot their tissues? Dirty protest? Doesn’t give a ‘hoot’? Who knows, but that ‘sniff sniff’ sound can send you right over the edge.

6. The ones who will always react with ‘oh, for f**ks sake’: because when another train is cancelled/someone barges into you while on their phone for the third time that day – it can feel like the end of the world, and there is no other appropriate reaction.

7. The one refusing to make eye contact so as to not give up their seat. I see you. We all see you.

8. The one with the suitcase/pram/large child – SO annoying. Until, of course, it’s you, that is.

9. The person who is always face down in their phone, no matter what. Maybe to avoid awkward seat-giving-up situations? Well, if you happen to slam into them, that’s their problem and their insurance, right?

10. The one who forgot to put on deodorant. Creating a horrible atmosphere for everyone on board, as passengers look around to spot the culprit. Letting out a fart then looking around pretending to also be ‘offended’… I see you, too.


11. The one whose bag is on a seat. If the carriage is empty, then fair dos. This is a good way to stave off the ‘ones who want to sit next to you when the rest of the carriage is empty’ – remember those?

12. The one who sits on the aisle seat with no one by the window. No thanks, I don’t want to shimmy over you. But I do want to sit on the nearest available seat. And when you want to get off the transport, I will move to allow you to do so.

13. The one shouting ‘squeeze in, move down’. We all ‘sigh and tut’ at this person, but secretly we know we would probably do the same, or at least wish we would. Just move down, for goodness sake!

14. Which leads to… The ones who won’t move down. Yes, it might be your stop next but that doesn’t stop you from squeezing back through again in a minute, does it? See also, ‘people who won’t move away from the pole and/or door’.

15. The one leaning on the pole. I will have to ask you to ‘move please, so I can hold on’.

16. The ones who don’t hold on. Those London tube lines are jerky, especially when busy – watch your laps!

17. The ones who chat loudly with their friend saying how ‘sad it is that commuters don’t smile or talk to each other’. To them, I say, not only is this because we have to begrudgingly do this sweaty journey twice a day, every day, but I think we also smile less when overhearing people saying that we should.

18. The random smiler. Sometimes this happens, and it’s nice. It re-instills your faith in human nature and (for the brief time you ride the escalator, before reaching the real world, at least), you get a warm feeling about the fact that ‘nice people are still out there’. Sometimes, it can be a bit… awkward.

19. The music blarer. Mainly if it’s a song I like but I can’t quite hear it properly.

20. The barger. British people know how to queue, so why does this go to pot at a bus stop?

21. The ones who don’t go upstairs on the bus. ‘There are seats on the upper deck’. You there, standing by the stairs, don’t perch, move up those stairs, please, so that the rest of us can get on.

22. The worn out parent on their way home from South Kensington. Dear reader, help this parent. Why not give your seat up for their child? The apparent happiness this brings is unbeatable.



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