Aboard the weirdo express

2:57pm Monday 15th December 2008

By James Bunyan

There’s something funny about trains. Or at least, people on trains.

Although it is only a minority of people who do act strangely on the train, their proximity, as well as how peculiar their habits are, makes it seem to me that trains are weird places that attract weird people, where the weirdoes go to sit and say weird things when they haven’t got anything else weird to do.

Only recently, there was a story in the news of how four teenagers (youths these days), decided to shave a sleeping man on the train by setting his beard alight, meaning he suffered third degree face burns. Why would you ever decide that was a good idea?! Ever?! Even if you came from Basingstoke?!

I was once on the way home from a day of buying budget toothpaste, chicken flavoured noodles, market freebees and cheap T-Shirts (or if you’re a student, groceries), and I sat down on the train with a mate. We sat opposite a 30 year old guy who I genuinely thought had died. Recently, as he was still warm. He was slumped in his seat, leaning slightly forward, iPod playing what sounded like a bear going through his bins at full volume, staring with unblinking eyes at the phone in his hand.

This was peculiar enough, but ten minutes into the journey, after having failed to show any indication of life, he gave a groaning sound as if he had just got up from hibernation, which echoed round the entire carriage. I wasn’t imagining it, because other rail users looked up from Pride and Prejudice, Solitaire or whatever it is that hardcore commuters do. However, no-one was that shocked. They were all rugged train vets, and apparently this kind of thing happens all the time.

But to the two of us, “outsidee people”, as we’re called by the “trainees” (people don’t realise what this word actually means, they think it describes a student worker, but actually the correct term for a student worker is: Amazingees), it was so funny. And he didn’t even notice us collapsing with mirth just beyond his phone. And it only got better, as he performed this noise about five times in a 20-minute journey, without moving even a little, or blinking, once.

As we got off the train for our stop, I couldn’t help but wonder how many days he had been like that…


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