93% of tweets sent during commuter hours are complaints about trains or fellow passengers on them.
As much as I can, therefore, I try to limit the amount I say about trains – with the notable exception of an entire essay on why we should ban quiet carriages.
I’m breaking this self-restriction, though, to report the following: on a 1.5-hour journey, the person sitting next to me bumped me with their elbow approximately once every two minutes. When I say bump, I’m talking a hefty whack caused by them putting their hands in their coat pockets and taking them out again, and not just the occasional nudge. It became so incessant that I actually got used to it; on at least two occasions I nodded off only to be woken up by a considerable jolt from my big-elbowed neighbour!
The remarkable thing about this is that (1) I said not a word apart from… (2) I eventually apologised when they looked at me in a “why are you looking at me strangely?”-type way.
It was honestly such a bizarre experience that I fear I was an unwitting subject of a psychology experiment.
(On which, this is a great read:
Thirty years ago, they were wide-eyed, first-year graduate students, ordered by their iconoclastic professor, Dr. Stanley Milgram, to venture into the New York City subway to conduct an unusual experiment.
Their assignment: to board a crowded train and ask someone for a seat. Then do it again. And again… an astonishing percentage of riders — 68 percent when they were asked directly — got up willingly.