I’m a guy that is fairly unshockable. And I’ve been out drinking and had a guy chat me up on behalf of his wife. But what just occured on the train to London left me flabberghasted.
Once more I’m suffering public transport in order to get down to London for a friends wedding. The cost of a last minute return ticket to London from Edinburgh is around the same price as the petrol I’d use doing it in the car, but it takes 3 hours less. So long as the trains run on time that is. Pre-booking will make it cheaper, and it gives you the advantage of reserving a seat in the quiet coach. After boarding at Edinburgh on this particular journey everything seemed fine, until 3 dickheads arrive. I can tell they are dickheads, it’s something about the way they are singing loudly as they stagger drunkenly along the carriage swinging their bags above their heads and banging into people. This hypothesis is further confirmed when one of them leans over the aisle to an elderly lady passenger to ask her to tell his mate to “stop being gay and have a can of beer!”. Her reply is inaudible, but it had to have been something along the lines of ‘Please go away and leave me alone’ as his retort was “Fine, be like that you stuck up bitch!”
Thankfully they seem to settle down and they even look like they might fall asleep, giving us all relief that they aren’t going to be a major problem. Until the same dickhead decides he must call his bank and insure he’s been paid. Loudly!
My blood is boiling and I’m very close to helping him hang up when he ends the call. The elderly lady then advises him that which the train announcer has already stated, this coach is the quiet coach and talking loudly on the phone is very irritating to the other passengers around him. His reaction to her tells me that she needs back up and I step in telling him very plainly that it’s just not polite to ignore such a basic rule of civility. He apologises sarcasticly, way too much and all I can think is I wish gun control did not exist in the UK.
Him and his two friends have north east accents so I hope they are leaving at Newcastle, but as we pull in there he starts dialing a number and says his hellos. I stare right at him “You are having a laugh, right??? It’s a simple rule for the quiet coach, no talking on your mobile phone!”
“Do you want me to leave?” He asks.
“I would love it if you did and I’m betting I’m not the only one!” And with mumbled apologises, which are still seriously sarcastic, he leaves. He returns a minute or so later, still on the phone but saying his goodbyes and very much still an idiot. A fact emphasised when he looks out the window and realises Newcastle is his stop. He grabs his bag and heads off wishing his two friends a pleasant leave. But as we gain speed out of Newcastle he comes back complaining that the guard wouldn’t let him off the train while it was moving. “Fucking health in safety or summit!”
He stands in the aisle next to his seated friends for a few minutes before making another call, which I can see is irritating a number of my fellow passengers, but the call is ended quickly, so we all let it slide for now. Then as the steward comes down with the cart flogging overpriced hot chocolate, he ends up forced into the seat next to me. It isn’t long before he puts the phone next to his ear.
“No! I don’t think so pal! You are not even thinking about using that phone, especially while sat next to me!”
“Can I not make a call likes?”
“Not in the quiet coach, no you can’t!”
“Is that like a rule or summit?”
“Yes, it bloody well is!”
“Soz mate, I don’t use public transport often.”
“It’s a basic rule set up for something we like to call ‘Common Courtesy’, a rule you’ve heard over the tannoy 3 times since you got on at Edinburgh. “Coaches B and K are the quiet coaches, all electrical devices must be switched to silent and no calls are allowed at any time.” Those were the exact words of the conductor.”
“Like a say I don’t normally use public transport, I’ve got way too much money. I’m not a scruffy cunt!”
“No you’re just an ignorant bigoted homophobe who can’t have a drink without turning into an annoying berk!”
By this point I’ve decided he got on the train and deliberately sat in the quiet coach to wind people up for his friends amusement and he’s going to spend as much time as possible trying to wind me up. He retrieves a picture of a girl on his phone and sticks it in my face.
“Wanna see a picture of me girlfriend?”
“Not particularly, no.”
“She’s really nice. She’s really pretty look!”
“And yet she goes out with you? And in public?”
“Well I have to pay her like!”
“That explains a lot.”
“How about this picture? Does she look better in this one?”
“Dude, I’m just amazed you have an IQ high enough to be able to work a mobile phone.” A ripple of laughter rolls through the coach from everyone bar him and his friends.
It takes a while but he thinks of something else to annoy me with. “Do you think we’ll be in Darlo soon.”
“Oh I do hope so.” More sniggers.
“I’m getting off in Darlo see.”
“Really? You promise?” The woman sat opposite nearly chokes on her coffee.
Thankfully we begin slowing down to stop in ‘Darlo’, and he gets up, grabs his bag again, and decides to go for one last attempt at pissing me off. “Have a nice night mate, hopefully see you again soon.”
“I really hope I never see you again, ever!” I reply. And he’s gone. This time, he doesn’t come back. If he had, I’d have been sure to point out to the ticket inspector that he most likely doesn’t have a ticket.
I take a deep breath in and let it out slowly sending any residual stress out with it. I get up to go to the loo and I’m stopped by the old lady. “Thank you,” she says “for backing me up. He was being really loud and I was rather frightened to say anything in the first place.”
“Never be afraid to challenge someone for being rude.” I tell her. “We must always stand up to idiots like that. If we were in Japan, everyone would be hurling abuse at those sorts of people and shaming them into behaving.”
She thanks me again, I tell her no problem and I go for a wee.
It’s peaceful on the train now for at least an hour when the incident which shocked me occurred. The very same old woman, the one who had challenged the rude clowns in the first place, pulled a ringing mobile from her pocket and had a conversation! I was stunned into silence! My glare could have burned through the seats like some kind of Superman laser vision!
My reasoning for going off at the Darlington Dickheads was that they were more than likely bothering the other passengers as well as myself. Her reasoning was purely that they were bothering her. Had to have been! Have we really become a society so devoid of humanity that we just don’t give a damn about anyone but ourselves? It certainly is starting to look that way. Walk down any street in London while it’s raining and see how many times someone almost takes one of your eyes out with the edge of an umbrella.
Part of my philosophy is that life will keep a balance. During the riots last August, there was at least the same number of people turned out to clean up on the mornings after the devastation, as there were idiots who actually caused the mess. But that balance will never hold unless we are not only prepared to stand up to rudeness and idiocy, but also to hold OURSELVES to those same standards.
Even as I’m writing this, David Cameron, another berk who has had an education which must have cost a few quid, says one minute that he wants younger people to show respect to their elders and betters, then stands in the House Of Commons and insults 81yr old Dennis Skinner and refuses to answer his very serious question! Was he absent the day they taught manners?
Bobcat Goldthwait, in his new movie ‘god bless america’ asks the question “Why have a civilisation anymore if we are no longer interested in being civilised?” and there are times like this one on the train when it doesn’t seem that awful to allow madmen to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. But of course, there’s no guarantee that said madmen would manage to take out only idiots and rude jerks.
Thankfully, on the train back home from London, the chap I was sat next to restored a bit of my faith in humanity. He turned out to be really pleasant and we had a good chat all the way from Kings Cross to where he got off, which turned out to be…Darlington.