travel

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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Dentistry

Yesterday was really quite a unusual day.

To frame the story, one important piece of information needs to be noted. I am truly phobic of dentists. For almost ten years – from the time my mum said ‘you’re eighteen, sort yourself out’ – I didn’t go to the dentist, even when one of my teeth mostly rotted away. Last year, however,my resolved to finally go to the dentist and get things sorted out, and hopefully remove an increasing mental burden I was carrying around with me. I finally got to the dentist last May, and with being bounced around a couple of hospitals to find one prepared to do all of the work under sedation, it was only yesterday when I eventually got any actual work done.

I was so scared going into it. The only way I was able to function for the days leading up to the treatment was by distracting myself, by ring fencing the idea that I was going to the dentist to have treatment for the first time in over a decade into a corner of my mind and shutting it out completely.

By the morning of the treatment, that shuttered corner of my mind took up a significant portion of my brain. I barely said anything to my wife on the journey to Guy’s Hospital.

After a brief pause in the waiting room, my name was called. I froze up completely, momentarily unsure what to do, in a stereotypical rabbit-in-the-headlights moment. After a few moments, I got up, and followed the nurse to my fate.

The mental ring fence grew. By this point it was having to occupy so much of my conscious mind in an attempt to try and hide from me what was going on I couldn’t actually talk.

“What did you have for breakfast?” the nurse asked, ensuring I’d followed their guidelines on the short walk.

“Uh…”

I genuinely couldn’t answer. I vaguely recalled what I had eaten, but the words to describe it – and the way to vocalise them – were gone, hidden away in the locked off part of my brain that was preoccupying itself with doing anything but thinking about the situation I was in. A few other questions followed, and each time I had to look to my wife to answer. I simply couldn’t speak.

I arrived at the dentist’s chair. Unlike my previous checkups, where I had initially refused to sit in the chair, this time I sat down without complaint, resigned to my fate.

The dentist and nurse talked to me a little more. I managed to recover a few words; I was able to tell the nurse I had “cooked bread” for breakfast as she swabbed my arm for the IV. They stuck a pulse meter in my finger, then got a bit annoyed when I started nervously tapping it on the arm of the chair. Looking at the IV inserted intoned my arm, I decided I wanted to take a picture of it. I don’t know why, despite the fear, I still wanted to take a photo. I got my phone from my pocket, but then decided it would be a silly idea and put it back.

Then they added the sedative. I remember saying my eyeballs felt funny – then the next thing I knew, I was sitting in a recovery station with a tissue in my mouth.

This is obviously where things get a bit hazy. What I went in for was conscious sedation, so I was awake the whole time, but I have no memory of it whatsoever. None at all.

So, then, it was naturally a surprise to find I had taken a couple of images of the catheter and the pulse monitor and had uploaded them to Facebook. I also also had a short, badly-spelt conversation with my dad via Facebook messenger, and apparently decided to wear one of those little puke bowls as a bowler hat whilst in the recovery room. I also managed to have enough failed attempts at unlocking my phone it got to the point where it had locked me out for five minutes, which was probably for the best.

Eventually the sedative had worn off enough for them to let me home. At this point I was pretty lucid; it was I that needed to guide my wife out of the building. That said, all this is really foggy at this point. I remember waking up with the tissue in my mouth, because I took a picture of it.

wpid-photo-28-feb-2013-1103

I don’t really remember leaving the building, but I remember being aware of it. I vaguely recall my wife getting a tiny bit lost at London Bridge Station. I also remember her falling asleep on the train home (I don’t, however, remember posting a picture of her asleep to Facebook, but apparently I did). But the few bits of the journey home I have any recollection of are like a dream, or that disjointed, automated journeying you do when heading home when very drunk. The first decent memory I have of the day is waking up with my cat on my legs having fallen asleep on the sofa.

I don’t, for instance, remember commenting repeatedly on the quality of the soap in the toilets. The weird thing is, a lot of what I did whilst ‘under’ was related to the few thoughts that were rattling around in my head before they dosed me.

It was a weird day. I have no recollection at all of the dental procedure, I wasn’t even aware of it happening, but I was aware of the rest of the day; it’s only in the intervening time that the memory has faded like waking from a dream. It was surreal.

What I’ve learnt for next time – which is worryingly next Friday – is to relinquish my phone to my wife before the sedative kicks in. Which will be less amusing for the people who follow me on Facebook, I guess, but at least I won’t then check my own Facebook the next day and go, what the fuck?

Incidents

Now look.

Describing something as an “incident at Waterloo Station” does not do enough to satisfy my curiosity. Especially when it involves a fire engine outside the station and an ambulance parked in front of the ticket barriers. That’s interesting; I want to know what’s going on.

I first thought, maybe it’s something as trivial as someone getting trapped in one of the on-board toilets. As I have now discovered it was actually someone under a train, which obviously is a terrible thing.

This seems to happen to me a lot. A while back I was attempting to contact the Apple Store in the Bentall Centre in Kingston to chase up a repair and the hold message changed to ‘due to unforeseen circumstances this store is closed’.  I wondered what the heck it was, maybe a bomb threat or something. It later emerged it was a woman who had tragically fallen from the top floor.

The reason why people crowd around accidents (or ‘incidents’) is because they want to see what’s going on. Most people are inherently nosy. That’s the inquisitive nature that got humanity so far… until it turned into the desire to hear celeb gossip, and now we’re mostly fucked.

There might have been a point to this post,  but if there was it has temporarily escaped me.