Trains. A place where people of all shapes and sizes are flung together in a carriage. They travel together day in and day out. Nobody speaks to anyone they don’t know. Everyone (well, most people) is the model of decorum and politeness.
One day, on the journey home, two teenage girls got on the train. The train pulled off and chugged along merrily for a while. We then got near to a station and stopped and everything went quiet. You know how it is when the engines stop all their whirring and crunching. You just get silence, aside from quiet ticks and squeaks from the train as it waits patiently on the track. All is quiet in carriage number 3.
And then the teenage girls turn on some music on their mobile phone. On loudspeaker. The entire carriage is subjected to a tinny version of P.Diddy blaring out into the quiet carriage. People start getting a bit fidgety about this. Yet, nobody says anything. The woman next to me is clearly very irritated by this noise and starts turning around to give the girls ‘commuter evils’ (*this is when you dislike what someone else is doing, yet do not want to break the Commuter Code by actually talking to them. Neither do you want to glare at them so much as to encourage a response from them.)
She then starts muttering under her breath, ‘good god’, ‘for god’s sake’ and the like. As I am sitting next to her, I feel like I need to acknowledge her mutterings. Yet the carriage is so deathly quiet that I don’t want to. I smile bleakly at her. She carries on her mutterings to me. But there is nothing I can do! I am starting to feel uncomfortable now.
And then the train comes back to life with a whir and a groan, and the P.Diddy is partially blocked from our eardrums.