There are a number of social rules one should follow, like queuing in an orderly fashion, kindly offering your seat to the elderly and so on, but these are a given. What about the rules that are not in common knowledge and should be explicably stated in some kind of rule book for newbie commuters?
Like for example, if someone has clearly finished reading their newspaper and casts it on the shared table, are other passengers allowed to nab it? Quite obviously the paper will be abandoned once the train has reached it’s destination. And does it matter whether the paper has been paid for? I wonder whether simply being the first person to physically pick up the Metro means you now have full ownership of it.
There’s also the issue of talking. It’s not considered the ‘done thing’ on the platform, or even the train itself, unless you actually know the person. A bloke who gets on my train (let’s call him Bob) probably has the least train etiquette of all commuters. I am one of the losers who position myself on the platform exactly where the doors open, so I get a seat – it rarely fails me. But Bob, he likes to stand next to my spot. And stare intently until you give some kind of recognition of his presence, then he smiles awkwardly.
On the one occasion he did converse with me because our train was half an hour late, he tried to reminisce other train moments, in his OUTDOOR VOICE, much to my dismay. I like to think I have train etiquette (despite being the person who reaches out for abandoned newspapers). Luckily I only have to sit on the train for 25 minutes, so I’m blissfully unaware of other commuting no-no’s…
In recent weeks I have joined our daily commuters in the not-so-adventurous journey into London. I get the high speed train which takes me into St Pancras in shockingly 25 minutes, which is a very expensive alternative to avoiding a 1.5 hour journey on the slower Charing Cross train, to only get the tube to the other side of London. I must say, commuting has become a rather pleasant and, dare I say it, relaxing experience on the high speed. You rarely find a group of loud obnoxious teenagers hogging up all the seats and drunks are pretty much unheard of. I guess they would rather spend the extra dosh on a few more tins and get the peasant wagon.
Not to be classist or defamatory to people who get the Charing Cross train, I mean, my husband gets it for gods sake. Realistically though, the drunks and yobs are not willing to pay more for the same vandalism they can cause on a ‘cheaper’ train. I use the term ‘cheap’ lightly, because we all know how ridiculously expensive both trains have become. The Charing Cross train takes an hour to reach its destination, and with an annual season ticket, it will set you back £3,380. The St Pancras International high speed train is a comfortable 25 minutes, for an even pricier £4,368 with an annual season ticket. Isn’t it ironic that the longer you are on the train for, the less you pay; for an extra £988 you can pay to not be on the train.
And yet we factor in the losses because our time is so precious to us, we would rather pay to retain few more minutes of our lives. The train has become a rich man’s toy, leaving the rest of us in deficit. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I am thoroughly enjoying the summer holidays with the family, however I am also incredibly excited about my new job in September. As I will be commuting, I will inevitably arrive home a little past the usual dinner time of 6. This means preparing dinners well in advance, as well as clothes, DS’ day bag etc. I am quite an organised as it is, but this will take some real planning, maybe even charts, to ensure DS remains eating as healthily as he does now. I plan to pre-cook a large batch of healthy dinners and freeze them in tiny containers so he gets his continuous dose of goodness. DH and I are fine to eat a little later, but DS runs like clockwork and must eat at the same time daily.
I thrive on organisation and keeping everything in order, although the one part of this new advancement on advances strategy I dread is the ironing. And choosing tomorrow’s outfit. Those two things coupled together causes a wave of lethargy and my brain to melt. When I finally do pull myself together and am dressed to go, the lethargy dissipates, only to be replaced with a burst of panic when DS runs towards me with mucky hands. I think I will need to invest in a boiler suit or an old lady’s long-sleeved night dress in XXL to cover every part of my outfit; I am certainly not prepared to choose and iron another outfit in the same day.
In the next few weeks leading up to my new job, I plan to rejig DS’ entire routine and sign him up to a new nursery. Currently he feeds and sleeps at times which suited us as students; he has had the same routine since birth. He will still eat at the same times as he does now, however what was a snack time will become lunch, and so each meal time is pushed back in accordance to the nursery. I doubt DS will be too fussed with this new routine, as long as he is fed and can nap he remains a happy boy.
This is proving to be quite an exciting time for all of us. I am raring to go as we are catapulted into a new era of our lives. Dressed to the nines, the Bradley’s are ready for the kill.
So yesterday was my final day at work, the last of my excuses for being in Canterbury. No longer will I have to risk my life driving 40 minutes each way half asleep, only to sit in a dark room made of glass. Nor will I have an excuse to buy random objects in my lunch break, to receive odd looks when I return with a laundry basket, mop and a whole chicken.
With my ties to CCCU severed, it leave me with an odd feeling; I am not overjoyed, yet I am not completely saddened. Perhaps a little empty; after all, CCCU and Canterbury have played a large part in my life over the past four years. I have lived the student life, become a responsible parent, a wife, and a full-time worker all under the same setting.
After drinks with my colleagues, I had to say my farewells and make my journey back ‘home’. The sun was setting on my walk to the train station along the city wall, making Augustine House sparkle; a picturesque view I have mentally stored and taken back with me to dreary Gravesend.
So the weeks have passed and I am now residing in the filthy town that is Gravesend. My days are spent in denial of this fact, concealing my devastation behind my desk with my Admissions hat on. It is only when I set out on my arduous journey home, crossing the Medway border on the M2 and the skies turn grey, does reality smack me in the face.
It has only recently occurred to me how much I took for granted, living in the city centre, working for a decent wage with no travel costs and a neat apartment minutes away. I would enjoy regular visits from DH and DS during working hours and finish my day at 4:30PM, to find my bouncing baby boy waiting for me at the door.
I no longer have these privileges living in Gravesend. I see DS for a maximum of two hours a day, in which the morning hour is spent rushing around trying to get ready for work. In the evening my boy greets me with red eyes, exhausted from having such a fun day with Daddy, and slums into his high chair eager for dinner before bed. I barely spend any time with my boys before it is bedtime and I am forced to wake for the next day.
I remember I came across this battle when I first committed to working full-time. Yes it got easier, because my son was across the road. Will it get easier again? Doubtful. I am becoming worn, reliant on caffeine and desperate for my son’s attention.