The Joy of Commuting

I’ve spent the last few years working in the suburbs, leaving behind the daily routine of train travel that I’d “enjoyed” for many years.

Last month I started working for a client in the city – so it’s been back on the train, just as getting out of bed early became more of a challenge with a late sunrise and brisk mornings.

In my second week, up and out extra early to make a breakfast meeting, an incident occurred between North Sydney and Milson’s Point stations that inspired me to tap out this post on Facebook.

The Joys of commuting #674. 2-3 year old next to me on train just took a dump in his nappy, with commentary. Train is packed, three stops to go. His mum is on level 245 of Candy Crush.

I hit “post” as the train descended into the abyss of the Wynyard tunnel, and tuned back in to thinking about the morning’s meetings.

By the time I was back on-line at lunchtime, the post had been liked and shared a few times. I decided to add a comment saying, “Only the part about Candy Crush was made up,” because it was. Like most of these things, the post then disappeared from view.

On the way home I was idly reading through my Facebook feed, and felt the need to put some headphones in to keep a noisy conversation two rows behind me at bay. As the music started to relax me a little, I looked around the carriage and felt inspired to write another post.

The Joys of Commuting #143. The fact that the volume of other people’s conversations in the train are inversely proportional to how interesting they are. Those two hipsters are discussing Instagram and the politics of selfies at full volume. But I bet those business types in suits are whispering to each other something that would be really useful to me when the stock market opens in the morning, or if I wanted to bet on who was going to be next to appear before ICAC.

I set up The Joy of Commuting Facebook page, copied the two posts over, then drifted off for the rest of the trip.

Now, I look forward to every trip, which is now a little writing workshop. I look around for a prompt to inspire something weird and outrageous about life on the train. The truth is always a good place to start when you want the reader to have that nagging doubt about how “real” the post is.

Here are some of the other posts in the growing collection:

The Joys of Commuting #59. On those chilling mornings when you have to decide whether or not to tell the person sitting next to you on the train that they should have put their scarf on AFTER eating their porridge for breakfast. I guess someone else will tell them.

The Joys of Commuting #7. When a slight drop in ambient temperature leads the malfunctioning thermostat to tell the air-con to pump the train carriage full of hot, stale air. People’s iPads are slipping in their sweaty hands and the micro climate brewing around the group of Yr 12 boys wearing blazers threatens to set off the bio hazard alarm. On the upside, there is an impromptu hot yoga session underway in the vestibule area.

The Joys of Commuting #34. When you wake up after a snooze on the morning train and think for a moment that you’ve mistakenly come to work on Saturday, as the train seems to be packed with people off to the beach, the footy, pole dancing classes or a rave. Then you remember it’s casual Friday…

One of the regular readers has now become a regular contributor – we’ll be publishing the collected “Joys” in an ebook once we’ve assembled enough material – which at this rate won’t be too far away.

Maybe I’d better find another client based in the city.

[This article first appeared on the ABC website]

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