Actually…that’s not strictly true. The trains themselves are rarely the issue. I mean, sure, sometimes the Air Conditioning doesn’t work which makes for especially uncomfortable travel in 30+ degree weather with a full train and no windows that open. This issue can then be multiplied to extreme discomfort when the driver shuts down 2 carriages and forces 4 carriages worth of people to cram into 2…with the aforesaid lack of windows/air conditioning.
At that point it is not the train itself, but people in general, that I hate.
Occasionally I have an extreme dislike for the train station that co-ordinates badly and then forces said “Sauna Carriage” to be sat on the tracks, in sight of my destination…literally. The other day I was actually watching people buying frigging Ice Cream while my train, with no word as to why, proceeded to sit for 10 minutes without moving the 200 meters or so required to…you know….LET US OFF THE DAMN TRAIN.
I digress. What I am driving at here is that despite these things, what I really hate are the other train travelers.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I suspect it is. First off, queuing. Germans are bad at this. English people are good at this. It’s a fact of life. Like the French eating cheese and surrendering all the time, you know, common knowledge.
Germans queue in the same way that people who watch Bruce Lee films do martial arts. Thinking that they can chop and kick their way out of any situation without training. They kinda sorta almost understand what a queue is, but they get it hideously and comically wrong.
Take yesterday (no seriously, take it please)…Due to the ineptitude of the planners in Frankfurt (don’t get me started), the trains are running somewhat erratically at the moment. This means that my journey begins a good 45 minutes earlier than it needs to, just to ensure that I make my connection…a connection that is a mere 4 minute train journey away…but I digress. The first thing you notice is that everyone spreads out along the platform in an effort to be in the correct place to be at the door when the train pulls up.
Next comes the inevitable jostling to try and maintain your position at the door. Immediately after this, the person that has won the battle of the door, realises that there are about 300 people that would like to get off the train and they are now blocking the exit. Cue more jostling as the people behind spot that this person will need to move which could leave an opening. Factor in the average German persons complete disregard for personal space and I am quite surprised when fights don’t break out.
For my part, I position myself in classic queuing pose, complete with shakes of the head and tutting in the right places when people try and move me out of their way. In itself, attempts to move me are pretty funny. Yes I am no longer the man hillock (I would love to say mountain, but I am not that tall really) that I once was, but I am still pretty big.
Then comes the zombie shuffle onto the train and the veritable sprint to a seat where you will be, hopefully, left alone to your thoughts. Again, I must confess, my innate Britishness lets me down here. I hit the window seat, but do not do the bag on the spare seat, spready outy thing that stops all but the most determined seat finders..so I am often disturbed in my comfort.
So far so moderately annoying. The real fun comes when you get to your destination.
In an effort to get off the train in one piece, people will invariably get up and head to the door of the train a short while before the train actually arrives at the station. Not too bad really, but I think that if I had not picked up a car recently, and was forced to go on the train too much longer, I would sit down, wait for the train to pull out of Frankfurt and immediately stand-up and head for the door…such is the competition involved in getting off the train first.
Now normally this wouldn’t affect me, except for the fact that I generally have around 3 minutes to get off the train, out of the station and across the street to make my tram connection.
On the way home I am, generally, far more relaxed. Not always, but generally. If I am at the door, trying to barge past me is going to piss me off. Especially as there is nowhere to go…the fucking door is still closed. Breaches of queue etiquette notwithstanding, barging me out of the way when the doors begin to open will really rile me up. Now, here’s the thing, if you are in a rush and immediately sprint away the second the doors open, I will be OK with it. Your need is clearly greater than mine. However, and I think it goes without saying that this happened to me recently, sprinting down the platform is not an unrealistic expectation of mine. If you do all of that, get onto the platform and then proceed to saunter down the platform in front of me at a pace that would have the most lethargic of snails and sloths bored out of their minds, expect serious and I mean SERIOUS….tutting.
Still, the car will make it all better…then I only have traffic problems to deal with. Much less stressful