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.
A helping hand, ca. 1910s
3 hours ago