Have you met a Rufus the Cellfish? Don’t be a train-jacking, phone wanker!
Commuting is rarely much fun is it? I do remember the odd journey as a child when train travel was less common and more of a treat if you were going somewhere like Butlins for a holiday. The carriage would be quiet and on the old trains there was that lovely beat as the train went over the tracks – diddly dee, diddly dum, diddly dee, diddly dum!
Gazing out of the window there would be a wide expanse of rolling fields and live stock and if you were lucky, a lake or a shimmering coastline depending on which part of England you were travelling through. (Ok, I may have exaggerated here or looked back through rose tinted glasses. The sea was probably a churning mess of grey and the sky thunderous and threatening with low hanging clouds! This was England after all but isn’t fantasy a wonderful thing?)
Nowadays, I have more of a hate/hate relationship with trains. The carriages are always packed to the rafters with people jostling to find a seat, someone will always have popped their miniscule carry-on in the lower rack, so you are forced to have a 25kg case onto the middle or top shelf and train times are about as reliable as a political party, post election.
Don’t you love a good day on the train? The train slides up so the door aligns perfectly in front of you. Once the weary passengers exit, you leap on and find a seat which isn’t littered with crisp packets, tins or cans of red stripe and half eaten egg mayo sandwiches.
You sigh happily, sinking into the seat and pull out a book, ready to plunge into a world of espionage or ice blowing dragons and then it happens. Some boorish turd in a pinestripe shirt and navy blue suit will get on, carrying his briefcase. He’s already having a loud and obnoxious conversation at a thousand decibels. You hope he continues to walk down the carriage but no, he’s looking for a spot with the maximum number of people present, who will now be his captive audience for at least the next hour or so, whether they like it or not. He’s one of life’s train-jackers, a bleeder of ears and a thief of oxygen. A phone-wanker or a cell-fish.
Pinstripe will be talking about a project that he feels the rest of the carriage will have a vested interest in – spoiler – they don’t! He’ll throw in a multitude of buzzwords that he doesn’t entirely understand to make himself sound more credible. You know he doesn’t understand the context of these words as he’ll eununciate these more loudly as if he believes it gives them more credibility, so you’ll hear him saying, “Ya, ya, benchmark that, keep me in the loop, the offshoring is viable, oh ya, it’s hyperlocal.” Then he follows with a baffling, “Yar Edwin, we are going for snackable bites for the launch.”
Sorry, did I hear right? He’s talking about a buffet right? My ears prick up. I like a buffet! Nope, the braggart is saying they will feed snippets of content to their audience but it’s said in the wankiest and most pretentious of ways. Pinstripe is never calling his wife or kids to see how they are. In this moment, he’s an actor on his locomotive stage, with his train hostages that must endure his monologue of technobabble or marketing speak until their ears bleed! There’s a few ways to cope under these heinous circumstances.
A: If you remembered to charge your earphones, pop them in until you get off.
B: You could move carriages, if there’s any space. In fact you might even opt to camp out in the stinky toilets than listen to Rufus’s ramblings. (You learn their name quickly as they slip it into the conversation as often as possible as they are the superstar of their own world) – “Yes, mention me, tell them Rufus approves it.”
C: Throw yourself from the train window. This option is inadvisable, the results are very messy, fatal in fact and someone will have to clear you up. Plus, they tend to make the windows small for this very reason.
D: Offer Rufus some chewy toffees. It will slow him down a bit at least.
Years ago, unfortunately I was with a guy like this. (It was pre-therapy and I made some diaobolical decisions back then). He couldn’t just sit down in a public place and read a book, have a normal conversation or enjoy the scenery. He had to make every journey or place of interest about him and how he planned to build a multi-million dollar business and take over the world. I remember one occasion, we visited a lovely, tranquil beach in Cyprus, although the peace didn’t last once we sat down. He talked at the top of his voice about how he was going to make so many deals and take over the industry. People were beginning to stare and I sunk deeper into my lounger, hiding behind my oversized sunglasses. My cheeks burning, less from the 30 degree heat and more from mortification.
‘Look at all these people listening,” he bragged, “they must be thinking, wow, who is this guy? He’s really doing great stuff.”
I muttered under my breath, “More likely they are thinking who is this utter fanny who won’t shut up and let us relax!”
Of course, motormouth never did any of those things he said he would do, because people who like to talk about them loudly, never do them. They want all of the credit and praise without any of the work. On the contrary, perhaps the Rufus’s of the world do have some valid businesses but they just aren’t interesting to other people, who just want to get on with their journey and relax.
I’m wondering now if I’ve ever been a train pest in the past. A couple of times after a busy week and a horrific journey with missed connections, I’ve probably opted for a few wine miniatures on the train and called friends on route, and while I like to think I’ve used my volume button accordingly, I may not have done. If I have ever been a loud twat and you were sat near me – sorry! Mostly I would have been talking nonsense. I’d be too worried about people nicking any half decent ideas to voice them aloud or worried that I might sound like a Rufus and definitely wouldn’t make your ears bleed with technobabble or marketing jargon.
I do get chatty after a vino or two and end up having a conversation with the conductor and the stewardess but I tend to ask about them, how their day was and not blather on about myself. Let’s face it, when you are serving the public on a busy transport vehicle you just don’t want to hear what a bad day someone has had as you are too busy having your own bad day, so it’s best kept light and cheery.
For every Rufus there’s a Beryl or a Derek to restore your faith in humanity. Beryl is the kind lady who will deliver information and tell you about the journey changes you might have missed. Derek might be 70 or he could be a younger lad with parents who love old fashioned names but he’ll spot you trying to heave your bags up the stairs when the lift has broken down and he’ll kindly take them and sprint to the top like Usain Bolt as you happily bounce up the steps, now as light as a feather. These people in life are the absolute gems of society, the glue that holds us together and any act of kindness should be paid forward. See a lady struggling with a pram? Offer to help. An older person or pregnant woman standing in the carriage? Give up your seat. Is someone running for the lift? Hold the doors open for them. I’ve been in situations where I’ve got to the lift and some smug pratt presses the close button and as he disappears downwards, he smirks at you stood there sweating, hair like a haystack and juggling several bags. Don’t worry though, there’s a special little seat in Hell for the lift hijacker and there’s a nicely stoked BBQ underneath it, right where his botty is parked.
A big shoutout to all the conductors and inspectors over the years who have been so kind when I’ve been in a panic. There have been exhausting times where I’ve fallen asleep or zoned out and missed my stop. Explaining this in a state of panic, while trying to breathe at the same time is one of life’s horrors and I’ve been surprised by the kindness of train staff who have understood and let me go back a stop the other way. They must put up with all kinds of hassle and abuse on a daily basis and they still make the effort to be decent people.
There’s a lot more on train etiquette I could comment on but you’ve been so kind to stay with my rantings this long, I’ll save it for another blog, should you happen to enjoy this one.
‘I’d like to thank LB for inspiring this blog with his Meme ‘Cellfish’ to coin the Rufus’s of the world.
LB has kindly shared some thoughts on Cellfishes and suggests (if you are brave enough, unlike many of us too-polite Brits) to ask, “Can your big deal not wait until Kings Cross?”
This one is probably a tad easier if you look like a rugby player that doesn’t handle fools gladly.
In response to someone blasting out hideous, grating music, he pithily asks, “Did you forget your headphones?” and believes that in life we need, “The power of selflessness and kindness rather than the shite of cellfish.”
Finally on that note, I’d like to send some love to our wonderful Twitter tribe (or X tribe, sorry old habits die hard!) who bring so much warmth, laughter, insights and kindness to our daily lives. I love you all and remember, don’t be a Rufus 😉