The Monday morning commute is something I, amongst most others, will always dread and despise. The day in itself is a reason to don a frown, the time almost unhealthy. I make this journey each week to volunteer at a London hospital, and then when term time arrives I will become again a frequent face on the city bound line. Though it may not be a very long journey, under one hour, it can seem like a major task to endure – twice.
I confess, I am in part responsible for the tense silence befalling my carriage. Not being extraverted, and minimally sociable, I don’t break the rule of No Conversation between commuters – aside from the occasionally mumbled apology for squashing another passenger as I shuffle into my seat. This makes me part of the problem.
The problem being that when passengers – on a mainline train, a tube, a bus – abide by their travelling rule we become disconnected from each other. If you avoid eye contact, purse your lips together, park your luggage in the adjacent seat, stare at your phone, plug in those headphones… anything to pretend its just you on the train. What does the person across from you even look like?
It may be difficult to break a smile when you have to stand for hours, being thrown about from the train’s momentum, and sweating profusely in the cloud of commuter stench. Or when nobody will offer up their seat, or allow you to leave the carriage before they board.
Perhaps these are the excuses commuters hold onto to pardon themselves of rudeness, aggression, irritability and a general aura of icy silence. I think it would be nice to try and break that silence, and perhaps get to know the strangers I travel with each day.