So now that I'm back from my career break in Kenya, I'm travelling to Bradford every weekday on the train and I can officially call myself A Commuter.
I despise it.
The only good thing about my commute is that it's only 8 minutes on the train to Bradford.
Maybe it's because I got so used to travelling by matatu every day and I just loved going on the matatus. They felt so alive, so bumpy, so loud, so raw, SO CHEAP. I loved the loud music pumping from the speakers. I loved the UV lights that shone after dark inside turning them into mobile discos. I LOVED that when you got to your destination you had to bang on the roof when you wanted them to stop. I loved that conductors called me 'Whitey' and mothers passed you their children to put on your laps.
My life now is such a huge contrast to what it was six months ago. Don't get me wrong, I'm mostly happy and it's all going in the right direction, but that doesn't make the journey to and from work any less depressing and GREY.
Here's the top five things I hate about commuting:
1. The people who get up five minutes before we arrive at the station and wait by the door. Where do you think you're going? The driver hasn't even announced that we're about to arriving and you're pushing me out of my seat (even though I'm getting off at that station too) just so you can get up and stand NEXT to the seat in the queue to get off the train. Don't even get me started on the people who press the OPEN button before the train has fully stopped...
2. The zombie-like expression people wear on their faces. Seriously? Are you happy with your life? I can only describe your face as GREY. It makes me sad to look at your face. It makes me worried. I want to talk to you.
3. The people with no concept of volume. Oh hey, you know those things in your ears? Those headphones? Did you know that they actually aren't soundproof OUTSIDE of the ear area? If I wanted to listen to your music with you I'd sit on your lap and sing along to the music with you. But I don't. SO TURN IT DOWN.
4. The silence. Maybe I was spoiled in Kenya with the music on public transport. But I can't help but feel if the train had speakers with upbeat music playing (and I don't mean the music in your earphones) for everyone, we might have more of a smile on our faces when we left the train? Sometimes the silence on the train makes me want to do something crazy like, oh I don't know, start a conversation with someone or just sing a song. If I could cartwheel then I'd do that!
5. The pushing to be the first to the ticket barrier. Hey, you want to get there so badly, be my guest. I am in NO hurry. But when you barge my shoulder and don't apologise, don't expect me to be nice about it. Especially if you're a d*ck in a suit. On your phone. Carrying a briefcase. That's no way to get ahead in life. Despite what you may think of yourself.
The one thing that gets me through is remembering it's not the same all over the world. We're so developed that we've forgotten the basics. For me it doesn't get any better than being thrown about in a minivan, dust blowing in my face, music pumping, swerving through traffic.
The day I become comfortable, or resigned, to this commute is the day I stop doing it. There's so much more to life than that.