commuting

The Morning Commute

Recently, a Buzzfeed list has done the rounds which has resonated well with my fellow commuters. It reminded me of this old, long-unfinished post that I actually started writing in early 2011 but never got round to finishing. Still, as it has a few points the Buzzfeed article missed, I decided it would be worth finally finishing it…

Let’s face it, the morning commute is, for just about everyone, pretty horrible. Even if you removed all of the people and had an entire train to yourself that wouldn’t leave the station unless you were on it, you’d still have the getting up, getting to the station, and the inevitable problem that all the free seats would be either broken, covered in chewing gum, or have a stain and odour about them that you wouldn’t find all that comforting.

Despite that, the worst thing about the morning commute is usually the people you’re travelling with. You share your journey with hundreds of other people on your train alone, and they all have to be somewhere quicker than you do for far more important reasons. You’d have thought that the free world wouldn’t be quite so dependent on so many people.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the most annoying things people can do to make your morning commute just that little bit more unpleasant.

 

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Worst Commute Ever

Today contained what must be the most annoying piece of not-irony-but-what-most-peole-call-irony ever.

Long story short, someone who was giving a presentation had decided to bring his own equipment instead of paying to hire ours, and failed to bring a long enough extension cable. He came down to our office and announced that he was from Network Rail and he needed our help. After a bit of pleading, I told him we’d help him out this time, but if my train was late today I’d charge him double.

I think he now owes me quite a bit of money.

I got to Waterloo on my way home to fond only a handful of trains were on the departure boards, and all of them were already late. Figuring the earlier train might be the first to depart, I jumped on the 16:05 train, which at that point was already 45 minutes late in leaving.

Almost 30 minutes later, the guard finally turned up, had a quick look, and then let us know that there the driver hadn’t turned up yet so we weren’t going anywhere.

I got off the train to find the departure board had changed the train from being the 16:05 to being the 16:50 – and interesting choice, as that meant the train was still half an hour late. Why not change the time to make it a train that wasn’t supposed to have left yet?

At that point I gave up, met up with my wife (who leaves work after me) and headed for the Tube, and a journey that ended up taking over an hour to get as far as Richmond, where our final leg – a bus journey – was hampered by such bad traffic we decided it would be better to eat out that evening.

Even after we’d finished, the traffic was bad enough that we decided it would be better to walk to Twickenham Station to pick up our bikes and cycle home.

So, what caused this massive, widespread disruption?

As it turned out, it was caused by a single fatality, at Surbiton, at 10am that morning. Somehow, a single fatality at that spot, on a completely different line to the one I was using, caused total and complete havoc on the entirety of the South West Trains network, by causing both staff and trains to be stuck out of position.

Makes you wonder if they somehow knew that was a weak spot in the system.

Oh yes, and if you’re wondering, we did make it home – a total of over three hours after I left work, if you include stopping for dinner.