Imagine you’d never met me (some of you haven’t; you should, I’m nice) and I went up to you in a train station in London and said “Excuse me, can you do me a favour, I need a newspaper, but rather than going to the newsagent just over there and buying one, I’d rather give you the money and you go to Manchester for me by train, pick one up from the newsagent at the station and then come back. Would you mind? You’d be doing me a favour, I really can’t be arsed.”
You’d tell me to fuck off right? In fact, you’d be utterly astonished that I would ask such a thing. It’s a ludicrous idea, that you would spend 4 or 5 hours of your time just for a few moments convenience for me, a total stranger.
Imagine you actually did it, and when you got back I said to you “Thanks I’d really like to read my newspaper now, oh by the way” and I elbowed you in the face and then pushed an old woman. “Sorry, I need to keep hitting you and pushing this old woman to fully enjoy my newspaper, do you mind?”
By now, even those of you who don’t like the word, would be thinking if not saying “What an utter unbelievable selfish cunt.”
How could such people even exist? How could anyone be so inconsiderate and rude like that, how could someone be so wrapped up in their own convenience that they would happily in all conscience do these things? Well, it turns out, if you travel by Tube, you probably see someone like this every day, you might even be that person yourself.
I spent my Tube journey home tonight looking at two people, who shared the characteristics of the person in my story above. And I wondered, how could I possibly explain to them how selfish they are, what analogy could I use to make them change their ways… the Manchester newspaper cunt was what I came up with.
The first twattish characteristic represents the person on the Tube who barges through closing doors. The doors are beeping, he comes running, he can tell he’s not going to make it before the doors start to close. He chooses to try to get some part of his body into the doors, to cause them to reopen so he can get in. Sometimes they reopen straight away, sometimes there’s a struggle as they try to close and he tries to pry them open. They’re going to open eventually, the train cannot physically move with the doors open. After a struggle maybe, the doors reopen. He gets on, usually with a strangely triumphant look on their face. Usually people on the Tube don’t really look or talk to each other, but someone who has just managed to get on the train by blocking the door always gets on as if they’re going to be high-fived, big smile on their face, a mighty “phew”, “that was close, huh”.
It happens all the time. Do they really not realise what they have done?
He has decided that rather than wait 1 or 2 minutes on the next train, he would prefer to delay around 800 people, anything between 15 and 30 seconds. Each.
I’ll say that again, he has missed the train, he can either wait a minute or so for the next, or he can cause 800 other people, just like him, to share a delay of about five hours. Those people will be later home, maybe just a fraction, but still later home. In some cases they will miss a connecting train, and have to wait a few minutes, maybe hundreds of people on a packed train could be in that situation.
When you put it like that, doesn’t that seem quite mind-bogglingly selfish. It’s asking someone to go to Manchester to buy you a newspaper rather than popping along the road to the shop. Yet, how many times have you seen people do this, regular people like you and me, who seem unaware of how spectacularly self-centred they are being.
Onto the second characteristic in my analogy; why was my character hitting people so they could enjoy their newspaper?
There’s a woman on the Tube, it’s rush hour, a busy train. She has decided the most important thing in her life at that moment is that she has to read a newspaper. Nothing matters more. If she has to spend more than a few moments not reading a newspaper she will start shaking and go crazy.
She has to make the choice between holding on to the rail in the train or read her newspaper. There is no choice for her, newspaper every time.
Now, she knows that she is on a train. A vehicle which careers through bendy tunnels at high speed. The train brakes. The people who are sitting or who are holding on to the rail – i.e. most people – are OK, because they got on board in the knowledge that they were going to be travelling on a fast-moving vehicle. Newspaper lady loses her footing and bashes into the person in front of her.
With an incredible lack of self-awareness, she mutters “stupid train”, “fuck’s sake”.
In order to get passengers to their destination after braking sharply, and not cause a total meltdown of London’s arterial underground transport network, the train has to do one key thing; it has to speed up again. Even to those of us without a Masters Degree in Metropolitan Transportation Systems, this is to be expected. To the woman with the newspaper, it comes as a great shock. After pounding the poor person in front of her and steadying herself, has she learned her lesson and decided to hold on to something? Fuck no. She is turning the page of her newspaper. The train accelerates, she is thrown backwards this time (I’m no physics expert but I’d have put money on that); she stands on someone foot, pushes an old lady and almost knocks a man’s iPad out of his hand trying to steady herself.
I watched this fucking moronic bitch for some time as she continued to jostle around the place, no thought given to the people she injured or could injure, no consideration of the fact if the train derailed or had an accident she could probably kill someone. No … it’s impossible to survive a train journey without reading a newspaper, it’s impossible to hold the newspaper in one hand and hold on with the other, and turn the pages when the train stops. Of course it is.
This woman has made the conscious choice that battering people is worth it so she can have the comfort of reading a fucking newspaper.
The sad thing is, these are not rare people, these are choices people make every day, I’d hope without really realising. And if you are one of these people, this is your time to realise.
Knocking someone over because you’ve chosen not to hold on is a conscious decision you have made. Delaying a train full of people just to save yourself 60 seconds is a conscious choice you have made. Are those the choices of a normal person? Are those choices that people would expect of you? Do your friends think of you as an inexcusable selfish cunt with no regard for other people? Probably not, so don’t act like one.
If you’re not one of these people, there are things you can do to effect change in commuter society. Don’t be afraid to say “listen sweetheart, it’s not the train’s fault that you’re a fucking moron with no concept of how trains work, now if you don’t hold on to something, I’m going to take that newspaper, shove it up your arse and staple your fucking hand to the railing.” And for those who block the doors a swift kick in the testicles can really help get a train moving faster and help lessons to be learned.
Or you could just share this post and spread the word.