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Opinion: A Commuter’s Rant

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I’m mad as hell and won’t take it any more!

Well, at least not until Monday morning, that is.

I take a NJ Transit commuter train for my work commute. Overall, my gripes aren’t with New Jersey Transit. Nope, not at all. I enjoy the conductors and engineers regularly running the trains on my line. For the most part, I get to work on time and I get home on time. It’s quicker and cheaper than driving and I can read the paper or daydream while looking out the window as I travel. The legroom is perfectly acceptable and my own commute times/train line is relatively uncrowded. So, what’s my fuss, you ask?

It’s my fellow commuters. It’s the cell phones, the loud iPods and Walkmans; it’s inconsiderate boobs. Yes, I said boobs! I’m going to rant a bit here – I apologize in advance. If you commute on a train (or bus), you’re sure to recognize some of these behaviors. If you feel I’m talking about you, repent! Repent your ways for the sanity of society at large!

The #1 Gripe is the cell phone bit. I’ll get into those silly, annoying Nextel walkie-talkie phones first, I guess. Why must you use a walkie-talkie in a public environment? Why? The volume is always too high; that tone is utterly obnoxious in public. If you want to relive childhood fantasies of walkie-talkies, go build a fort and use it in there. Get it off my train. As for regular cell phone use, who the heck are you calling to chat with at 6:40 in the morning? Who? Why? What’s wrong with you? If anyone called me at that hour to chitchat, I’d hang up and rescind my friendship. I don’t want to know your personal business or your business’s business. I just don’t want to hear it. Text message or something. Perhaps go for psychological help to see why you must always be talking on the phone. Oh … and if there’s a one-sided loud cell phone conversation going on in back of me in Mandarin, I’m switching my seat. I don’t want to hear it! Knock it off!

The #2 Gripe is folks who sit in an aisle seat and infringe upon the walking space. Stop sprawling into the aisle and confine yourself to your seat or don’t fuss when people knock into you or step on your foot in the aisle as they go by. You aren’t going to get out of the train any quicker by taking up part of the aisle. And, if the train is relatively empty, you can sprawl on a three-seater and impede no one else’s access. Keep your body parts out of the aisle or suffer the consequences!

The #3 Gripe is loud people or those who don’t sit together yet feel compelled to shout across the aisle to each other. Argh! Just sit together and stop all the yelling back and forth, please! Also, if I can hear your conversation word by word from half a train car away, you’re talking entirely too loud. Shhh! Inside voices, please! I’ll throw the iPods in here in this category. If I can hear your iPod from five seats away, you will go deaf long before your time. Turn it down. It sounds tinny and annoying as I try to read my paper and eat my morning croissant. Be gone with you!

The #4 Gripe is a going home at the end of the day gripe. Y’see, the train I take home heads into the city (Manhattan, NYC). If there are big sports games, all the freaky sports fans get on board as I’m just trying to peacefully end my workday. NJ Transit, unlike NYC’s MTA, allows folks have alcohol. No, there isn’t a bar car. People, most notoriously those folks heading to Yankees, Knicks (maybe they have an excuse to drink this season), etc., games bring booze aboard the train and party hearty. For a while there was even a man in the morning having his Bud in a bag while going to work. But apparently the mint he ate afterwards didn’t work. He didn’t commute for more than a month. I’ll social drink at times, but I find drunks to be loud, obnoxious, annoying jerks. I don’t want them on my train and wish NJ Transit would ban alcohol on the trains. If you’re drunk at Newark Penn, do not, I repeat — do not — sit on the platform with your legs dangling. You’ll soon not have a leg to stand on. (Yes, this has happened.)

The #5 Gripe is feet on the seats. Get them dogs down! I don’t want to sit where you had your filthy muddy feet perched. Sheesh! Common sense, please! And, that is indeed a rule of NJ Transit, just one not always enforced. Oh … and keep those shoes on. I don’t want to smell your funky feet and I don’t want them on the seats, either.

The #6 Gripe is open beverages set on the floor. Well, duh … the train stops, goes, lurches and such. Those drinks spill, ya fools! Take ’em with you and throw them out when you reach your stop. I hate walking through odd sticky substances, don’t you?

This one isn’t a gripe, but … go ahead and give the conductor grief. It’ll provide me entertainment and the conductor will win in the end. If nothing else, on the line I frequent, that conductor probably has the back-up of any and all regulars on the train. You want to give him grief, be prepared to deal with us, too. Now, you’re not so tough, eh? As I mentioned before, my line has some really great conductors – friendly and professional. But if you give them problems, they’re not likely to back down. Don’t try scamming them; forget the sob stories. Just have a ticket when you get on or buy a ticket on the train paying the surcharge if there are machines available where you board. Behave yourself while on the train and you’ll find NJ Transit can be “the way to go.”

I won’t even go into misbehaving children or teenage boys trying to impress their dates with their knowledge of Midtown Manhattan in this article…

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About Jackie

  • You’re going to have a heart attack if you don’t calm down. Maybe you should read a book about zen meditaion and do that on the train. Remember we can’t control others and we must release what we can’t control.

    Although I do agree with you on most points. Still for your own sake chill.

  • You tricked me into reading this with the implication that I would get to read about boobs. What are these inconsiderate boobs you speak of? Sounds hot.

  • An alternate take on this for you might be to accept that while most people are inconsiderate, you can still pretend that they all have much more interesting lives than the reality you see.

    That and a good pair of sound isolating earphones and I think you’ll be golden.

  • A.L. – Not to worry. I might have exaggerated my reaction a bit here. Creative license, I say!

    Nicholas – Heehee! That was the hook, y’see. 😉

    Mark – I tried to pretend the man in the gabardine suit was a spy – his necktie was really a camera. But, in reality, I think he’s an accountant.

  • Baronius

    I love to eavesdrop. I listen to the interesting people and the regular people. But the best are the stupid people. If I’ve got a long train ride, give me a poser on a cell phone, a guy doing a bad job of hitting on a girl, or a drunk explaining politics to a friend. Better than any sitcom.

  • David

    Wow what a loser

  • Friend

    The article is absolutely right. Nothing is more disturbing than the loud talker or cell phone user on the early morning NJ Transit train. The entertainment is great in the evening, but at six a.m. people should shut up.