Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Writhing Paper Snatcher

The man across the aisle was trying to read my paper. This is a heinous violation of train protocol and I was having none of it. I did what any sane person would have done, holding the paper in all sorts of exiting positions to make it impossible for him to read.

He squirmed, he leaned, he craned, he writhed. Uriah Heep would have been hard pressed to writhe with such intensity and vigour*. It was a genuine feast for the eye and I was grudgingly pleased. At this rate my antagonist would go home with a cricked neck, severe eyestrain and a pounding migraine.

In order to preempt any accusations of being a polyktonous misanthrope let me say this. If he had politely asked if he could have the paper when I was finished I would have handed it over with the geniality of a true gentleman.

His furtive squirming was driving me mad. It would have been nice to rely on Natural Justice showing itself, as demonstrated in my last post, but Natural Justice is an unreliable beast. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. In such moments it is important to stay calm, which is exactly what I did. I breathed slowly and deeply, then demonstrated unparalleled cold-as-lager brain work.

For a split second my antagonist was looking out the window in the opposite direction. With a subtlest of movements I slid the paper onto the table to my right (i.e. as far away from him as possible). What followed was priceless.

"Can I have it?", he blurted out, then scrambled over legs and bags to the table, snatched the paper and then stumbled back to his seat. The train was crowded, his outburst was in full public view.

I shared a precious moment of smug and tasty camaraderie with the other five commuters in my seating area. Justice may not have been actually served, but the entertainment value was tremendous.


* I have made reference to Uriah Heep in an earlier post (i.e. if you are moaning about repeated analogies then I apologise), and also touched on this incident another time, but I can't remember when that was and I wanted to do it justice.

30 comments:

Comedy Goddess said...

Your trains have tables? How civilized! Nicely done.

Call Me Cate said...

I wish I lived somewhere with trains. So much good stuff for blogs.

I also wish I felt more awake and had something more interesting to say. But I miss trains.

blognut said...

I love it! I would have done exactly the same thing!

jpooh said...

While he was writhing and doing the contortionist bit, I'd have just lowered the paper, looked him dead in the eye and said:

"You know, there are medications you can take for that."

Then I would have folded up my paper and tucked it away on my person.

But I'm a bitch that way.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

how I wish the worst thing I've encountered on trains was somebody trying to sneak a peek at the paper...I've had various run ins - including (seriously) getting PEED upon.

...and I agree with Comedy Goddess - tables on trains?! what a treat that would be!

Nej said...

You have the greatest train stories.

I can't believe the guy was that nutso about getting your paper. I wouldn't have set it down, so he could get it.....but, then I wouldn't have seen him make an ass out of himself to get it.

Good call, well played.

Diane said...

I have to admit (as I hang my head in shame), I have sneaked a peak at my neighbor's paper on the train. HOWEVER, I must add (in my defense), I have only done it to the person sitting RIGHT next to me and only moved my eyes (no other part of my body) in order to maintain my glance. And though I felt a bit frustrated when he/she turned the page before I was ready, I did not indicate such.

But I promise, should I EVER ride on the train with you, I will bring my own paper.

Peggy said...

I like the way you think.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Although I loved your story and always enjoy the train shannigans, I can't get past polyktonous. It is not in the dictionary. I like taking on new words, but this one has me stumped.

Stacie said...

how rude...of him.

Soda and Candy said...

Hahahahaha, that is awesome.

You are my new hero of passive-aggressive behaviour correction (I just cough pointedly at smokers).

Kat said...

Moe, you are brilliant.

Mama Dawg said...

I would have turned to the person on the other side of me and asked them in a LOUD voice if they wanted the paper.

But yours was just as good.

Minka said...

When it comes to bad manners of some people, I stopped wondering... seen so much.

Gwen said...

You are so much nicer than I - I'd have folded my paper slowly and then placed it in my briefcase for later, all the while making uncomfortable, unwarranted eye-contact with the perp.

C.B. Jones said...

Lat time I was on a train, I remember getting felt up by some random woman....


...At least, I think it was a woman.

Maria Roth said...

Oh, Jon, why don't you just bring an extra paper next time? ;)

The Gnu said...

haha that's classic. i agree with Gwen, you should have put it away, then thrown it out right in front of him when you got off.

Snarky A. said...

I love those people who try to read your paper over your shoulder (or w/e). I'm highly amused by seeing how far I can make them stretch/crane/tilt before they give up. Hilarious.

rubbish said...

Congratulations, if you google "polyktonous" you are the number one search result. Now, what does it mean?

Tooj said...

So....people will actually just TAKE a paper that you paid for? I mean, I know he "asked" for it, but really? I only read abandoned papers.

Diane said...

Come see me over at mine. I have something for you...

Michelle said...

Hilarious!

I will be back I think :)

g said...

I remember well when living in NYC in the '70s that most folks read the Post or the Daily news because they were tabloid-sized and good for reading on the subway. But dedicated readers of the New York Times knew how to do the NYT "subway fold", which is too complicated to describe here, but which allowed you to fold up a large newspaper to a convenient size on the train.

i still use the method when flying cross country - i always buy the NYTimes for the trip.

RE: the tacos, Mo - Tito's Tacos are greasy and disgusting, junk food although delicious. If you want REAL L.A. tacos, come join me at a taco truck.

Kylie w Warszawie said...

I'm pretty sure if I actually did take the bus everywhere, I would have way more blog fodder. Especially because where I live the drunks ride the bus all day.

They make for interesting stories.

Lee said...

It's better that the phone users who INSIST on sharing their call with everyone in the present and adjacent carriages.

Nikki-ann said...

LOL He must have been well desperate for that newspaper... I wonder what article was so fascinating that he just had to have it!

jerlyn said...

r u sure u are not related to Cpt.
Dumbass.

As a teenage working a booth at
Expo, an elderly lady came up and
whispered to him "Do u know where the bathrooms are/" to which
he whispered back "Yes" then went on working.

To all you shocked people, he did
finally help her on her way.

Asphodel said...

Paper snatchers are way better than boob starers! Sigh, you wouldn't know.

thistlesandmapleleaves said...

You are a cruel man. Well done :)

As I have quite a few new readers since I became a "Jelly Biter" I've put this up here again. To understand the context you must read this post!