Having commuted into London from the 'sticks' every day of my life from the tender age of 17 to the ripe old age of 36, I would say that after 19 years of it, I am quite an expert !!!
My journey has never been less than an hour and a half door to door (hmmmm, those were the days) and is currently a hefty two hours door to door. Insane you say ?? I say it's in my bones and, having completed a 2-day course locally last year, I got in my front door on two occasions at 5:45pm and spent the rest of my hours and hours and hours and hours worth of evening twiddling my thumbs and wondering what the hell's bells normal people do with their time !!!
So what about the actual commuting ...
Top of the list at the moment has got to be how to deal with the heat on the trains. My main problem seems to be that, unless the sun is actually out and blasting through the train driver's window (which is quite rare before 7 in the morning), the heating is left on on the train and, if you are 'lucky' enough to have the new air conditioned train, the air conditioning will always remain off !!! So that's the first hurdle. The second is developing the ability to being able to contort yourself around the travelling obese that insist on wearing winter coats even on the hottest days. I find that pressing yourself against the cool wall of the train helps not only to gain a bit of distance from 'the others' but will also help with the controlling of your own body heat. Just make sure you don't squish yourself against a bit of train wall that is directly above one of the ever-blaring heaters or you are likely to solder yourself to the wall !!!
Leading on nicely to my next tactical survival tip ... dealing with the BO of 'the others' !!! Depending on the intensity of the stench, sometimes breathing through your mouth can help. However, if the BO has been brewed for a few days (which in most cases it has), the taste can be worse than the smell. Therefore, try short, sharp breaths so that your sense of smell doesn't have a chance to take in enough to be able to tell your brain that your nose cavity is actually been melted by its surroundings.
Gross noises and odours from every commuter orifice is another obstacle to be dealt with. In my opinion every commuter should carry tissues – either for one's own use or to offer to the unprepared person sitting next to you that insists on snuffling and snorting all the way home. Offer them a tissue and tell them they need a damn good blow (of the nose – naughty !!!). A decent sleeve comes a close second but you may think twice when offering this option to your neighbour !!! If the noisy orifice in question is a lot lower on the body cavity than the nose, then I can only suggest that you use the same technique as when dealing with the stench of BO. A tutt, a huff and puff and a raised eyebrow in the direction of the 'brewer' seems to be the favourite counter-attack of rising stenches but I have never witnessed this working in my 19 years of dealing with gross commuters.
I could go on about how to cope when the train door doesn't stop at the part of the platform you are standing at (serious misjudgement and amateur mistake), or tips for keeping awake after a few too many on a long journey home, or how to keep your cool when a selfish depressive has thrown themselves on the line, causing hours of delays ... let's face it, the list is endless.
But my main survival tip for dealing with a nasty commute is to have the ability to sleep through anything and everything and make sure you have a decent bunch of odd-bods at the other end to make the journey worthwhile !!!
Maxine has worked with us for over 4 years as our Contracts Administrator. She is a lifeline to our Contracts team, providing valuable support. She enjoys swimming, ice skating and literature.
"Very flexible, bringing experience and knowledge to the project."
Liz Pickard, Founding Director & Project Leader, Consarc Architects