Yesterday got off to a bad start when I overslept. It was only my wife's alertness (unusual for that time) that saved me. The day got even worse when some schmuck ignored countless free seats in my carriage to take the spot next to me.
Schmuck? Be graceful I tell myself. Schmuck is a bit harsh. He's just flagrantly breaking the rules, the standards, the protocol. Protocol, the conventions or standards that define the right way to live.
He had clearly not read the handbook. Why would anyone completely ignore all those free seats?
I had just taken my seat, and was just getting into my routine. Flicking through the sports pages of the free paper. Berbatov gone yet? Nope. I took out my magazine and book, and then bang, this violator of protocol plonked himself right down beside me.
I moved and found a new seat.
The protocol is simple. You should never sit next to another commuter until all other options are exhausted. A free pair of seats should always be chosen above a partially occupied pair.
So if you get on a train and you have to choose between sitting in a vacant pair of seats, or taking a free seat next to someone, you always do the former. There are a few exceptions to this. If you have heavy luggage with you, then sitting in a seat right next to the luggage holding area is allowed - even if that means violating said protocol. But this commuter showed a total disregard and lack of respect for the most basic of rules.
It is all to do with personal space. The daily grind tests us all, and therefore at all times protocol should be followed to keep us all sane.
Unfortunately there are protocol violators everywhere. There used to be a commuter on one of the Brighton trains whose goal (I can only assume) was to ignore protocol and drive me crazy. I would see him on the platform at Preston Park in his Bellocian coat. He would get on the train and head straight towards me. Not even the old "evil eye" would deter him. Vast swathes of unpopulated seating areas would not tempt him one bit. He knew exactly which seat he wanted.
Remember this. It is impossible to dissuade a determined protocol violator.
But there are a few techniques I recommend that can make a difference. There's the old "evil eye". And then the old "bag on the seat" trick. This can only legitimately be used when there are free groupings of seats available. You can use this to give the illusion that the seats next to you are taken and deflect the protocol violator towards a free pair or group of seats. Note, leaving a bag on the seat of a crowded train is a violation in itself. That forces a seatless commuter to ask you to move it, even though there are no other seats.
There are a few other variations of this, such as holding your paper in such an expansive way that it has the "puffer fish" effect, again giving the impression that your area is taken. Again, on a crowded train this is also a violation.
Anyway, this guy was a protocol violator and I simply had to walk away.
The day hit rock-bottom when I found my banana and kiwi obliterated at the foot of my bag. Actually, obliterated is the wrong word. That implies there was no trace of the fruit. But oh yes, there was definitely a trace...
I don't want to talk about it, but I believe they were crushed to death by either my lunchbox or my hardcover copy of Ivanhoe. My money would be on Ivanhoe.
The day redeemed itself when I tasted my apple. The apple was coated in kiwi juice, and was absolutely delicious. If there's ever a call for GM fruit, it's an apple-kiwi hybrid.
A helping hand, ca. 1910s
3 hours ago