Seven Deadly Sins of the Train
As many of us lock ourselves voluntarily in shiny metal boxes, "contestants in a suicidal race",Sting might say, it occurs to me that perhaps bringing back some of the shaming techniques of the middle ages might be helpful. We've already started going medieval on our prisoners of war, so why not bring back more of those "Dark" ages to brighten up our day. We can avoid the listing of virtues, as they are always a bit grating...
Learn from this justly irritating Youth,
To brush your Hair and Teeth and tell the Truth.
- Hillaire Belloc, from A Moral Alphabet
Now onto the sins!
The seventh sin is smell. Bringing hot, greasy food onto the train entraps us all into a McNightmare from whence we cannot escape. Coffee is neutral enought to get a pass...but smokers are always going to make me gag. The only thing alleviating the smoking sin is that you can escape the smell by moving a bit away, not always an option with the fast traveling smell of food.
The sixth deadly sin is "headphones". By encasing it in quotes, it indicates the headphones are at such a loud volume as to penetrate the heads of all in a 10 foot radius. The loudness of headphones is directly proportional to how truely awful the music being played is. I have yet to hear anyone blasting out a particularly engaging interview being given by Terry Gross
The firth deadly sin is cell phones, though it bleeds into the sixth with blended purpose phones much as the crappy ringtone you downloaded is making all our ears bleed. Exceptions for loud use of cellphones are if you have to give instructions to Jack Bauer how to best torture a suspect into opening a socket to save the city. Otherwise, as my late friend K_ would say, "Shut it.".
Fourth on the list of deadly train sins is paying for the ride. As the train prepares to leave, there are inevitably some dazed riders who only now realize they have to get off the train, and slowly make their way to the front, so they can lay down their bags across two sets of seats to only now begin looking for their ticket. Followed by a five minute conversation with the train conductor - who they seem to not know cannot leave whilst they are hanging out of the door - about where the train they are now leaving might be going next.
The third sin is person space. Not satisfied with taking up two sits as they nap on the train, these folks also stick the legs out into the hallway, making a dance necessary to get by. Not to mention the baseball fan - not sure why it's always them - who comes onto the train solely for the purpose of stretching, which can only be accomplished by placing their arms and rapidly balding heads as far back into the seats behind them as possible.
The second sins can apply to bicyclists, people with stroller carrying babies or groceries and those with giantic cardboard boxes of unknown seeping items who then find the only place for these is in the hallway, completely blocking egress for everyone behind them. This could be an actually deadly sin, in the event of an emergency.
The first deadly sin belongs not to passengers but to the management. Not aligning schedules to reality is not the fault of drivers if the schedule is impossible to keep - it's up to the Train-masters to correct. No GPS on trains, announced "times" for trains that are just someone reading the printed schedule, and not the real time when the train will arrive, is keeping us all in the dark.