Friday, 17 July 2009

The Hand-Sanitiser and the Can of Mace

The moral of this story is that you should always carry a bottle of anti-bacterial hand-sanitiser. Just in case. If you've been coming here a while you'll know of my disdain for protocol violators, people that break the fundamental rules of etiquette, flagrantly sticking the finger up at what is left of your personal space, sanity and inner peace. The Bible doesn't tell you this, but these rules were created at the beginning of time along with the sun, moon and stars.

So I'm sitting a fairly empty carriage, it's always a bit quieter on Friday mornings, the seat next to me is vacant, as are two whole seating areas, one four-seater and one six-seater. I'm sipping a coffee, reading my magazine and quietly revelling in the peace and quiet. Quietly revelling is always a bad idea. If you want to tempt fate, or at least welcome a scandalous protocol violator with open arms, just sit there quietly revelling.

This bloke wanders in, completely ignores the free seating areas and targets my seat like a homing missile. I'd like to say that I chucked out some chaff (newspaper, coffee cup lid, used tissue) or even fired some flares, but sadly I didn't think of that.

He sits next to me - breaking that fundamental rule that on public transport you should always aim to protect the most (collective) personal space - and then (the irony, oh the irony) proceeds to lower the armrest. Listen Mister, why the hell are you even bothering with the armrest? If you're going to invade my tranquil world when you could have taken a whole six-seater to yourself at least do it properly, squash yourself right in, read my magazine with me and help yourself to my coffee.

As if that wasn't bad enough he starts breathing heavily. Swine-flu outbreak on the way, I think. Of course, another fundamental rule is that you do not breathe heavily on public transport. Unless, for example, the carriage is empty and you're passing the time by doing star jumps (jumping jacks in American I believe). And then I can feel his breath on my arm. That was the moment I wanted the hand-sanitiser, or even a can of mace.

I leaned away from him as much as possible, coping by dreaming, focussing instead on a wonderful scene. I'm sitting under a tree by a river on the edge of a field, a beer in one hand, a book in the other. Birds are singing, butterflies are dancing in the sun, there's not a human soul in sight and all is right with the world. Beside me on the grass is a bottle of hand-sanitiser and a can of mace. Just in case.

58 comments:

Mr London Street said...

I've missed your train stories.

And forget the hand sanitisers. I have two words to say to you Mo: Wet Wipes. You never have to worry about feeling dirty again (well, not like that anyway, they can only do so much) and they smell of holidays. Pop into the Boots at Gatwick Airport station and pick some up, you can thank me later.

Hit 40 said...

For the love of God!!! Burn a few calories and move away from the space invader next time.

I had someone pull their chairs right next to me with plenty of green grass around to spare for them at the last swim meet. I moved. They gave me a rude stare. What do I care!!! Not like a plan to make friends with them.

Gaston Studio said...

Why didn't you just move to one of the empty seats yourself? I'm suspecting that would have been considered rude in London but hey, at least then you wouldn't need mace.

mo.stoneskin said...

Just to clarify. The reason I didn't immediately move seats myself was because a) I would have had to collect up all my stuff from the drop-down table and b) ask him to let me out and c) unpack my stuff (magazine, phone, notebook) again. I considered it too much hassle!

Me, Amplified said...

when he started to breathe heavily you should have started a violent sneezing/coughing fit all over him. then apologise and say you didn't think you were contagious anymore. because i completely agree with you, why should you have to move! i believe the 'first here' rule applies here.

the girl with the pink teacup said...

You could probably avoid such awkward moments in future by feigning psychosis. Fun for you, and you get as much personal space as you like. I see no downside here.

Eric said...

You obviously have had prior special forces military training with your ability to force yourself to focus on other things like that while under the extreme duress of someone breathing on you like that.

Wouldn't it have been great if you happened to carry around an 'arm condom' for such a situation?

♥ Braja said...

Simple: spill your coffee all over him. Then with your free hand, you'll be reaching for that can of mace.

Just in case.

Y'know...

Call Me Cate said...

I think I would've relocated. Some commuters are too dumb to live. I wonder, assuming he was off to work, what kind of place would employ someone so dense.

expateek said...

Why don't you pre-emptively spread your stuff out on the seat next to you? The Daily Mail oops I mean The Times, open to the Sudoku, half-finished. And your jumper in a crumpley heap beside it? You need to think, man! Plan!

Courtney said...

heavy breathing? sick!

Stone and I scooted in at the movie the other day to allow a couple to sit together on the end of our row. I immediately regreted my decision to be nice when the little bitty started talking...and continued talking through the ENTIRE movie.

The Peach Tart said...

Next time I'd suggest start talking to yourself and rocking back in forth and then let out a big laugh and then pretend to cry

Joanie M said...

Breathing heavy?? What the hell was he doing to breathe heavy? Never mind... I don't think I want to know.

Audra said...

This is why I can't do public transport. However a week or two ago my 3 yr old and I were waiting at a busy restaurant for a table and the husband and daughter when a man sat down beside us. Drew in wonder was telling me "look at that wagon in the tree Mommy" then our couch companion has to tell him, "Well actually there are cables holding it up" Really dude? Let the kid have fun

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

It's a little known fact that the Tree of Knowledge was really just God's "Alone Place" where he would go and rest after a long day and sigh "Damn, running the universe is a busy job. These people are so damned needy."

Comedy Goddess said...

I love riding the train with you, and so do so many strangers apparently.
He must have thought you were really sexy, thus the heavy breathing. You really aren't aware of how alluring you are!

Comedy Goddess said...

To paraphrase Right Said Fred, Mo's Too Sexy for The Train!

jpooh said...

The difference between men and women:

Some creepy guy makes it a point to sit next to you on the train and begins to breathe heavily.

Men think, "Swine flu."

Yeah.

Harmony said...

LOL..I lost complete control over my coffee when I read: "If you're going to invade my tranquil world when you could have taken a whole six-seater to yourself at least do it properly, squash yourself right in, read my magazine with me and help yourself to my coffee." ~ Hilarious Mo!

The heavy breathing would have done me in. I most certainly would have felt obligated to say something to the man. "Sir are you okay?" "I only ask as you appear to be having a I don't know...asthma attack? Should I ring a doctor or are you in need of a more emergency type of help?" I probably would have badgered the guy until he decided to a) Shut his mouth and breath through his nose or b) Got up and left.

Tooj said...

Maybe because I'm a rude American, I would have given him a death look and stated, very calmly, "There are five other seating areas open. Do you NEED to sit next to me?" If he insists, then I would have gotten my ass up and left, of course making certain I stepped on his foot "accidently". I don't tolerate ignorance very well anymore, and would have called them out. You, my friend, have control.

Samsmama said...

Well I for one am happy you didn't move seats, as it made for a truly wonderful story. I've never experienced traveling on any sort of mass transport. But if I ever do, I'm bringing Wet Wipes. And a Tazer Gun.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Next time, accidentally elbow him in the face. Oops, slipped. I have a thing about personal space, too, I feel your pain!

Gwen said...

I'm afraid his behavior would've elicited an eyebrow raise and a "Really?" from me as I nodded and looked over at the empty 6-seater.

Ananda girl said...

You are cursed, you know. You are one of those people who are odd people magnets. The free range odd will always find you.

I am too. You have my sympathy.

Captain Dumbass said...

I think Mr. London Street mentioned wet wipes. Not a bad idea. You could have swabbed out his mouth with one. Or just stuffed a few dozen in there.

Amy said...

You are the funniest public transport blogger EVER. That could be your niche dude.

The thing I despise the most of all: a public event with assigned seating - a ball game, the theatre, etc. - and for whatever reason, there are a lot of unsold empty seats. There is always the dillhole who insists on sitting in his assigned seat. So you've arrived and seen friends, for example, and won't it be nice to sit together since there are so many free seats, and the dillhole won't move down a spot to make room because "this is my seat" and he holds up his stub for proof. And then I want to punch him in the throat.

Fenix35 said...

Haha great read as usual. It's so true isn't it. Just like when your in an empty public toilet and someone comes in and stands at the urinal directly next to you avoiding all the other unused urinals.

diane said...

All of the best advice has already been said, so let me just say this:
Silent but deadly. Gets rid of them every time.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I'm with Braja, spill your coffee al over him :-)

Soda and Candy said...

Jeezaloo.

Everyone on the bus here sits on the aisle-side seat and gives a hostile glare to anyone who tries to sit next to them. Of course most people on the bus are also so fat that you couldn't fit next to them in a two seat row anyway.

JennyMac said...

Sars mask anyone? A heavy breather neatly tucked against you..how nice.

You can also start an argument with your newspaper. Pretend its talking back. Hug at the end. He will move. Promptly.

Mr. Condescending said...

God I love your train stories! When I make it to london I'm going on one!

I keep a huge jug of sanitizer in my car. I swear to god on a car I had before, the steering wheel started peeling apart from my hands always being soaked in sanitizer.

Please post more train stories!

Vodka Mom said...

why can't WE have trains???


man. some people have all the fun.

blognut said...

I would've told him to keep his hot nostril air to himself. No kidding.

I hate that.

Slyde said...

in the past year ive gotten into the hand sanitizer big time. I pretty much use it every damn time i return to my desk...

jadedj said...

I think Peach Tart and Diane have the right idea. Except Diane's suggestion assumes one travels always with a good supply of gas...or, can do it on cue. Would work though, methinks.

However in the states, one can never be sure that the heavy breather, or a person with the traits Peach Tart describes, sitting next to you is not a mass murderer...especially on trains.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

I have issues with people invading my personal space, too...I'm with Braja - I totally would have 'accidentally' spilled coffee on him. :)

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

Oh good Lord, the heavy breathing. The only thing worse is if he'd started to eat and continued the heavy breathing. That? Drives me INSANE.

You should have passed some gas, that would have gotten rid of him!

Cora said...

Star jumps. What a cute name. I like that!

p said...

I really hope you're not foreshadowing my commute for the new job. Just in case, I'll make sure to buy some hand sanitizer and wet wipes.

Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

what is it with people who, when they see you're by yourself and happy, have to come over and annoy? Is this some human trait for companionship? Or are some people just idiots?

bernthis said...

Okay, my friend. Why didn't you get up and switch seats? I know you were there first, point taken but would it not have been worth it?

rubbish said...

You ever played sports Mo?
I cannot even begin to imagine the level of panic that would engulf you having to shower with thirty odd Rugby players.
That said, that would be really funny.

Madame DeFarge said...

I think I'm going to start wearing a biohazard suit. Saves buying so much hand sanitiser. I may get some odd look, but it'll be worth it in the long run.

Michel said...

Where the hell was security! I am so sorry for your trauma!

God I hate people.

There are ALSO rules about bathroom stalls - and people should be killed who violate them. It's just not right.

LiLu said...

I seriously would have moved. WITH a sharp exhale of disgust. Followed up by a long, slow glare when I settled myself far away.

The Jules said...

Grin and wave very fast at him.

I find they tend to get off the train then. Even if it's not in a station.

Kat said...

YOu should have just got up and moved. Imagine what that would have done to his self esteem.

Nikki-ann said...

Maybe I should have posted about being sat in a hospital waiting room last Tuesday... This big fat bloke in dirty jog bottoms & a t-shirt queezed himself into a seat next to a woman and her daughter and when he wasn't talking loudly he was grunting! The poor woman next to him tried to turn away from him as much as possible and her face told it all!

Girl Interrupted said...

Ok, well I have questions ...

He was heavy breathing on your ARM?

Why?

What was he doing?

Where exactly was your arm at the time?

Where exactly was his head at said time?

Why do I now have an urge to star jumps on a commuter train?

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I hate the space invaders!

the mama bird diaries said...

Ugh. That is gross. Feeling someone's breath. Yuck.

cactus petunia said...

The nerve of some people! Don't they know there's no breathing allowed on public transport?

I'm always tempted to start sneezing wetly around people like that. Or pick your nose and wipe it on the arm rest.

Maria Roth said...

I need to do some "star jumps" now. Been sitting in front of the computer screen too long.

The Rambler said...

Who doesn't love a train story from Mo? Tell me...really who?

Love the 'happy place' you went to!

Princess Andy said...

there is a mini can of lysol spray in my massive purse @ all times.

you should totally have one.

a mini spray can, not a purse.

unless it's one of those "man" purses.

andy

p.s. on second thought even man purses are gay. so only gay men should have them. and i'm pretty sure you aren't gay so don't get one.

Stacie's Madness said...

this is hilarious...what is it with you and people invading you on the train?

Nej said...

My response would have been right in line with Gwen. Bother or not, I'd have moved.

Or, made his life miserable....by crossing and uncrossing my legs numerous times....hitting in the shin or knee each time I did it. :-)

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!