Train in Vain

There’s a guy on the train most mornings who is really annoying. Why is he so annoying well he starts off by being one of those people who views being on a train as the ideal time to continue his social life. That’s right he’s a social caller.

In case you aren’t sure about the definitions you have four different kinds of people on trains (in relation to telephone use).

Perfect Saint – Mobile phone is off and stays off for entire journey.

They called us, don’t blame me – They receive a call on the phone. They look suitably embarrassed, explain the situation or answer the question quickly and hang up. If a conversation of more than one minute ensues then this person has become a social caller.

I just called, to say, I’m on the train – sometimes you do just need to initiate a call on a train. Normally to let the person at the other end know that the train has finally left the station and seems to have some intention of finally getting you home. This should be less and less necessary because you could always text. But we do know that texts can, on occasion be as delayed as the trains. So yes, it can be acceptable. But if the conversation strays off of the unavoidable reason for your call then you’re into social caller.

Social Caller – Oh dear, you stupid pitiful scum of the earth. You’re on the train, you’re bored. You’ve forgotten to bring a book or magazine and despite having a phone which you could play a game (with the sound off please) or write an e-mail (or for that matter blog post criticising your fellow passengers) you decide that it would be a good use of your time to catch up with your friends by giving them a call. This is just simply not fair. Us poor saps are sitting here while you yammer on about what’s going on this weekend, what’s happening with your boyfriend or on one memorable occasion as you wonder if the fact you’d missed your period means anything! And it goes on and on. And sometimes the person on the other end has better things to do or dies and the conversation ends. We on the train think, for one blissful moment that the pain has gone away. But there you are scrolling through your speed dial looking for your next victim. And it all just gets worse and worse.

So, now we have the definitions sorted lets get back to my social caller. Well the first thing to note is that it’s in the morning. The used to be a rule, a social code, that although nobody liked mobile phones on trains at any time on morning commuter you don’t talk to somebody even if there on the train right with you. Silence is the order of the day. But there’s no stopping this guy. Second this guys got a shrill camp voice and ends every sentence with a raised voice like it’s a question. Even when it’s not. And finally he’s depressed. So he just talks interminably about why everything is wrong in his life since he was dumped, and how he just doesn’t seem to have any energy any more. The worst is when he’s dials and then we all wait to see if the next person is going to pick up. He says, “pick up, pick up, pick up” as it rings. And then when nobody answers he says, “why don’t they ever answer”. Perhaps it’s because it’s seven fifteen and they’re asleep or they have decided that the very last thing that they want to wake up to is your depressed whiny voice droning on and on until the end of the world. Or perhaps they hate you. This is what I shout at him – in my mind.

4 thoughts on “Train in Vain

  1. Nick Ollivère says:

    I’d like to know what the gamboling definition is of someone who says this on the train when answering a phone:’Hello, Russell. No, I’m in a meeting at the moment. Can I call you back, say 5.30? Bye.’This happened to me this morning. The man was sitting on his own, and after hanging up went back to reading some notes. Maybe he was having a meeting with himself? Maybe he was on the way to an important meeting? Whatever the truth, a woman opposite was so shocked that she stopped doing her make-up and stared at him in bewilderment, visibly scared.

  2. Alex Andronov says:

    Actually I have experienced this too but had completely forgotten about it. A woman standing next to me on the train said to the person who called, “No Michael, I promise, I’m not in London today I’m in Bristol. [Pause] Yes right now.”I couldn’t believe it and stared at her. She looked at me, and said to me, “some things are better not knowing”!It was pretty incredible. I think we should call them liars. How about that?

  3. Nick Ollivère says:

    I had a thought that maybe he hated people who said ‘I’m on the train’ so much that he’s devised a secret code. ‘I’m in a meeting’ just means ‘on the train’.Or, how about this: I read an article about a guy whose girlfriend, after over a year, eventually found out he was lying about almost everything he did, but only with very small, seemingly pointless lies. She confronted him and he revealed that he had a stutter and couldn’t say certain words. So, rather than stuttering, he would just say the next word that came into his head. Instead of saying ‘I’m going to Paris’, he would say ‘I’m going to Berlin’, just because he couldn’t pronounce ‘Paris’ and was embarrassed about it. My point is, maybe this happened to the guy on the train?Sorry for the incredibly long comment on your blog.

  4. Alex Andronov says:

    Hey don’t worry about that, it’s still shorter than this post by me on yours.I hadn’t heard, but loved, that story about the guy who lied because he hadn’t wanted to admit he had a stutter. Do you have a source for it?That reminded me, obliquely, about something Richard Curtis said about the character of Blackadder. The only reason “Bob” came about was because of Rowan Atkinson’s incredibly pronounced stutter. Although you never see it in on screen or when he’s performing because he’s incredibly careful about avoiding doing material which causes him trouble on stage and does multiple takes for the tv work, so most people don’t know. So Curtis put in the reference to the character Bob as a joke imagining that they would change the name on the night. But the pregnant pause as he tried to prepare himself so he could pronounce the plosive sound was so funny that they left it in and the character stuck.

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