We British are a funny bunch. What is it about a phone call that enrages us so? A whole carriage on the train is specifically set aside for people who can’t stand the thought of having to listen to someone on the phone, or the rhythmic hissing sound of someone’s not so personal MP3 player.
I’ve seen people get absolutely red in the face with fury, popping their heads up, down and around the seats, desperately trying to work out whose phone just beeped a message tone. Once they have tracked down the culprit they suddenly become judge, jury and executioner, as they try and get the silence murdering villain thrown off the train.
It’s an odd place to be I can tell you, right now I’m sat on a packed train, I’ve just sat and counted (not very precisely) 68 seats all full of desperately quiet people. Even where people have boarded the train together and are sat next to each other, they dare not speak. Papers are being carefully read to minimise rustling and it’s just surreal how quiet it is. The only acceptable noise is a TUT or a HUFF if it’s directly in response to a noise maker!
I genuinely am trying to type quietly!
Every now and again someone coughs and at least four heads all pop out of hiding, looking disgusted at the perpetrator. The thing is, I’ve looked about and though I see at least three people sleeping every single night in the normal carriages, not one single person seems to be resting here. Everyone has to stay rigidly awake and alert in case someone near them tries to get away with a text.
Perhaps the real reason that no one dares sleep is the fear of snoring. There are few things more funny than finding that someone sat near you on a train snores. It’s an absolute guarantee that your giggle will spread. I always giggle when people start snoring or if they are dribbling, and I find it hugely satisfying if I become the head of a giggle chain. Knowing that I have freed people up to have a laugh on their otherwise dreary commute, by being the first to laugh, and therefore making it socially acceptable for the rest to follow, is a real treat.
That would not happen in here though, I’d be snorting and shaking, but as I looked around all I would see is sour faces looking back at me, including the snorer, who would already have been woken up and served an eviction notice.
I’ve just witnessed a real oddity. The guard came in and shouted to see tickets. There was a seconds pause, where I thought he was going to be lynched, and then there was a sudden carriage wide rush of noise. It was like a pressure valve being released on a steam engine. In exactly the same way that never happens in a normal carriage, the act of 68 people fumbling for their tickets made such a loud noise that everyone suddenly felt free. As the fumbling was happening, everyone started talking, or coughing or just breathing out.
The waterfall of noise was amazing, it bore no relation to the simple act of finding our tickets. It was so much more than that, it was relief! People knew they had a ten second noise break, and they were going to use it. The pent up aggression at the mere thought of someone listening to a song that they almost, but not quite, can name (one of the most frustrating feelings in the world) or of only being able to listen to half a conversation, was momentarily released, and reset back to zero.
I’ve often reported in the past on my feelings about listening to idiots on the phone who shout away, full of their own importance, but I can’t say that I hate it to the point of being stressed by it.
As suddenly as it had started the noise was over. The passengers all mutually agreed that enough time had passed to find all relevant documentation. The silence returned as did the pressure.
I have to say that as odd as I am finding this artificially created mobile library, I am also quite liking it. Mainly because it was the only carriage on the whole train that had an available seat to be fair, but also because it is quite nice. I don’t like the stilted feeling of forced silence that is clearly not coming naturally to people, but the actual silence that this produces is quite welcome.
My only real trouble is that for the last five minutes I’ve really needed to fart, but because I can’t 100% guarantee that it will be quiet, I just daren’t!
Update: Sorry, the post had technically finished on the fart joke, but two things have just happened that have made me quietly stifle a laugh.
Firstly, the man in front of me who has spent the whole journey looking round at every single noise, including at me when I tapped a little too enthusiastically on the keys and at the man to our side who received a text (he gave him a fully audible huff) has just received a call. His look of utter embarrassment as he jumped up and literally ran out of the carriage was brilliant. I would have LOL’ed if I hadn’t been in the quiet carriage.
Then, after the latest announcement to say how much more we are going to be delayed (20 minutes so far and increasing) a lady behind us committed a sin worse than coveting her neighbours Ox, she called home! She actually dialled out to say that she was going to be late. The call almost lasted a full minute before disgusted of Oxfordshire leaned over and pointed out her transgression.
Now, at this point she whispered the rest of her call, cut it short and hung up. If she had left it at that then there would be nothing to report – but she didn’t. She actually tried to defend herself – loudly! After the call she tried to talk her way out of it, when all she had to do was ignore it. “I’m sorry but I didn’t realise, do you feel better for having a go?” she tried to ask, I mean come on, there is no way on this planet she did not know where she was, it was such a lazy and obvious lie. Disgusted wouldn’t let it go, and was joined by two other protestors, pointing to all the massive pink signs, but she was adamant that she hadn’t known, “Well you will know for next time won't you!” Disgusted snorted and the matter was resolved.
Oh dear, another five minutes delay – I’m just not sure I can hold it.
Pictures from the lovely Google.