The Human Affliction

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Ah, another three day weekend. A much needed one, too. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that every weekend should be three days long. I wouldn’t mind taking a month’s less salary for a three day weekend all year round. We could have Fridays off which would mean we’d still have that sinking Monday feeling, but that would be alleviated by the half a dozen or so bank holidays scattered throughout the year.

By the way, while I remember – my apologies if there are typos in some of these posts. I do endeavour to keep it proper, but for some reason my version of Word has decided to set the default language as Welsh, which doesn’t appear to recognise any typos or come equipped with any sort of spell check at all. Any tips would be welcome, although I have already tried the obvious ones (like setting my language as English UK and making that the default) but to no avail.

Ooh, I finally got a haircut! It’s just trimmed as I’m still lusting after long, beach combed tresses. I wish my superpower was to grow my hair really fast, as well as it being thick and obedient. I just read this book which is called “Superpowers”. It’s actually pretty good.

It tells the tale of five college students who wake up with more than a hangover after a stormy night on the moonshine, and how they and the people around them cope with the changes. It lacks the clichéd superhero plot about the villain and how they have to save the world, but that’s addressed quite wittily. I’d recommend it if you harboured fantasies of flying when you were younger, or the other standard hero powers. It has a nice, shiny cover too.

I seem to have been on a bit of a superhero tip on my last library visit, as I’ve also read the book by the lady Shauna Reid, “The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl”. Her site can be found here. It’s an account of how she lost a shedload of weight and gained a husband over a period of about seven years. Wait, it’s more interesting than that… If you’ve ever thought about the way you look at food and decided it’s not that healthy to treat it as comfort/affection/your best friend quite as much as you do, you’ll probably identify with this.

I got to ponder the human affliction again one day last week. I reckon it was Thursday morning. We’re just pulling into Cambridge and I, as usual, politely ask the person beside me to let me out. I like getting up a few minutes before because it gives me a chance top stretch and generally get sorted before I have to get off the train and hotfoot it to the office. Plus, I shouldn’t have to justify myself! Over the past two months and eighty something journeys (ick) I’ve had a couple of people who object to me getting up three minutes before we pull into the station. The most recent was, as I’ve previously mentioned, Thursday morning.

There’s one man. He gets on at Ely, and is always wearing a black leather jacket and a rucksack. There are normally a couple of seats free in the end carriage by Ely (which is the last stop before Cambridge) but he tends to eschew them in favour of standing up. The last time I had a run in with him, he almost walked up my behind when I dropped my ipod outside of the station. Flustered, I snapped something about not actually helping and then overtook him as we walk the same route. He objected to this so much that he tried to block me overtaking on FOOT and then tried to trip me up when I passed him. Average Grumpy Man, then.

So, this Thursday, I ask the person next to me to let me out, and she gets out but goes the way of the doors. We do an awkward dance until I get past and she can sit back down again. When I reach the end of the seats (and the beginning of the door section) there is a queue of people. This consists of the GM and another passenger. There is about an acre of space by the doors, so I tap the GM and ask him to move forward, so the other passenger and I can get out of the way of the other passengers who were trying to get out too. I received a fairly typical reply in answer, where he correctly asserted that the train was stopping in a minute. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of a repeat of the first request. He moved, grumpily and didn’t even respond when I thanked him. After all, he didn’t have to move. It made more sense to and there was no reason he needed all of that space to himself – he still got out first, after all.

The other responses I’ve had when I’ve asked people to move to let me out of the seat range from sighs to feigning deafness. One woman even sighed loudly, moved to the other side of the table and snapped at her new seat mate, when she asked to move: “It’s the terminal, everyone gets off here anyway”. I had to bite my lip on that one – the poor girl looked heartbroken and I wanted to tell her that no-one has the right to tell her when she could stand up. But it’d probably be less “Dead Poet’s Society” and more “Coronation Street”.

Which leads me to the next thing I’ve been thinking about lately.

We’ve all seen them. The people who manage to maintain a double seat for one the whole journey. This relies on finding an empty pair of seats or table, and is not designed to hound people out of their seats! Here, just for you, I’ve collated some top tips on…

How to keep your seat

  1. When sitting in an empty pair of seats, ensure you sit on the one nearest the aisle. Anyone who wants to sit down will therefore have to talk to you or climb over you.
  2. Make sure anything you have that can play music, is playing. As loud as you can bear it and preferably with one ear piece hanging loose, beside your chin. This is to provide maximum volume for the rest of the carriage.
  3. Eat. Something smelly and/or messy is preferable, such as a banana sandwich or a McDonald’s.
  4. As soon as you get on, call someone. Talk as loudly as you can for as long as whoever you’re calling is free. Make sure that your ring tone is as obnoxious as possible (akin to the Nokia ringtone) and that your keypad tones are on full. Continue to call and text as many people/chat lines as possible for the duration.
  5. Grab loads of stuff and put it on the empty seat. Awkward items like paddles or big items like rucksacks are best for this situation.

Any or all of these are not guaranteed to allow you to keep your sacred space free of Other People. They will, however, make everyone in your vicinity hate your guts.

DISCLAIMER: I do not partake in any of the above practices. Nor do I condemn or condone.

On a side note, on my day off yesterday I enjoyed a bit of sunshine and a blood test. I actually had three vials taken out, which looks like an awful lot if it’s yours. There were two reasons for the test. One was for to check for diabetes, as I’ve had all of the symptoms and family members have diabetes. The other was to determine what nuts I’m allergic to and how severe the allergy is. When I have certain nuts I experience allergic reaction type symptoms – nausea, hot flushes, constricted breathing and stomach cramps.

Fun. So I should find out the results within the next week or so, I guess. I had to fast for fifteen hours before the test, which you wouldn’t think would be that hard. I could still smoke but I could only drink water, which got boring really quickly.

The other project will have an outcome within two-three weeks, too. First stage: achieved. Second stage: complete. It’s all out of my hands now, anyway.

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