Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Public Service Announcement...

The Intolerant Traveller would like to apologise for the late running of this train...

Apologies one and all for my distinct lack of posting of late.  What with numerous snow days, work/family commitments and sickness related absences my frequency of commuting has been rather minimal of late - which sadly means my material has been somewhat lacking.

Normal service to resume shortly.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sick joke...

This morning I was already in a negative mindset insofar that it was raining, my bus was late and when it did arrive it was packed requiring me to stand precariously holding my bag and soggy umbrella whilst trying (and failing spectacularly) to maintain some level of balance in a dignified fashion!  This late arrival unsettled my routine (I get great comfort from habitual organisation) and so I was far from pleased to be greeted upon my arrival at the train platform with the sight of one of the NHS Crew vomiting on the station platform.

Whilst it is unfortunate that he was feeling unwell (though admirable that he soldiered on and was heading to work) I found the whole episode entirely unacceptable!  To set the scene, he was sat on a bench, in close proximity to the station toilets, sipping a hot beverage and perusing a copy of the day’s free newspaper – when seemingly out of nowhere, he projects what I can only assume was his breakfast (given its undigested state) mixed with presumably the contents of his hot beverage across the station platform.  Without batting an eyelid, he nonchalantly took another swig from his drink and continued to read the paper leaving a mixed state of anger, concern and pity for those around.

Call me old fashioned but at least some level of embarrassment on his part was called for!  If not for being an adult allowing themselves to vomit in a very public place (presumably able to judge whether they feel unwell or not and able to seek the refuge of the lavatory readily on hand), then certainly for getting said vomit on the shoes, bags, coats and trouser legs of those around.  His total lack of acknowledgement for what had just occurred was simply astonishing!  Another of the NHS Crew saw fit to bundle him off to the toilet (presumably to at least ensure he had finished and rinse his mouth thoroughly before boarding the train) and had the good grace to look sheepish on behalf of his friend.

The ensuing commotion from those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the splatters ensured that I was unable to get my usual prime platform position when the train arrived, resulting in a rear facing squashed journey in to the office this morning.

Needless to say, not the best start to my week and I hope it isn’t a sign of things to come…

Friday, 19 November 2010

Attack of the clones…

Not of the Star Wars variety, but in this instance of the Vidal Sassoon hairdressers (or ‘Stylist’, ‘Technician’ or some such!).  Having boarded the train on my way to work, pleased with the fact that the train was running on time, I sat down at a table only to be trapped moments later by a hoard of Vidal Sassoon workers struggling with numerous Vidal Sassoon bags and vanity cases. 

Whilst they settled in for the journey (tipping drinks over the table as their bags toppled, searching for lost tickets (only having to buy more as they couldn’t subsequently locate two), storing their vanity cases in the luggage storage area and setting out their magazines, make up bags and iPhone 4s across the whole table) I was overcome by the clone like nature of their party.  Despite the visual similarity of all young, slim, donning varied versions of trendy outfits (all black of course) and sporting hairstyles all of a similar ilk (coloured within an inch of its life and coiffured into seemingly gravity defying styles), their actions, squeals and mannerisms were worryingly identical.  Is the Sassoon Academy Education akin to some form of Stepford (Wives) institution?!

It transpired that they were off to undertake some show in Hull (who would have thought Hullensians were at all astute in the ways of follicular fashion?) and were busy going over their proposals for the 3 models sitting away in the neighbouring carriage.  Terms such as Tecktonik hair styling and kinetic cutting techniques (for the benefit of those as confused as me: tecktonik and kinetic) were bandied about and it made me somewhat aware of quite how old and stuck in my ways I am becoming!  Claims were made at how developed and scientific hair cuts and styling are and how really, the whole practice is increasingly academic. 

I like to think that my barnet is somewhat vaguely de rigueur but I am at a loss as to why hairdressing is aiming towards becoming a science in its own right.  Granted it is a skill and I accept it requires an aesthetic eye but scientific?  Of course, I didn’t want to burst their bubble, particularly given how excitable they were.  After all, certainly a change from the normal passenger on the early commute…

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Ready and waiting...

As touched upon briefly in my earlier post The Poet and the Noisy Eater... a regular issue I have with my homeward journey is the wait on the station platform.  My embarking station is the beginning/end of the line so when the inbound service terminates the train remains idle on the platform for a period of at least 20 minutes.  This not only serves to exacerbate my frustrations with the fact that the service is hourly, but also results in a mad scramble when the doors are finally opened to the impatient hoards.     

The powers that be have decided that it is beneficial to all involved that passengers be made to remain on the platform (invariably in the cold) rather than boarding at their convenience apparently under the ruse that they are cleaning and preparing the train (such preparations invisible to the naked eye!).  What aggravates the matter further is that invariably the driver is merrily sitting in their compartment sipping coffee and reading a newspaper totally blasé to the plight of the ever increasing masses outside his window.  The one saving grace is that fortunately the platforms are covered so passengers are at least protected from the rain.  However, the simple open nature of a station platform and the absence of heating ensures that temperatures are usually towards freezing and the prospect of a regular wait in the coming colder months is hardly top of my wish list.

Given the train’s engine is usually running and the presence of the ever watchful eye of the CCTV cameras in the carriages, it does seem odd that passengers are not permitted to board.  Perhaps it is all part of some clever ruse to make the customer more grateful of the train’s limited comfort and therein their journey, irrespective of whether it is running on time.  However, I tend to think disgruntled train staff enjoy a sadistic kick watching bemoaning passengers shivering outside on the platform whilst they enjoy 20 minutes peace and quiet tucked away in their warm cabin!

A slight element of comedy arose recently whereby a rather disgruntled gentleman approached me to ask why the doors were locked and passengers were not boarding.  I advised him that this is all quite usual and the doors were not usually opened until a few minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.  This failed to appease him and despite the fact that I am relatively confident that my usual business attire isn’t akin to a train driver/conductor/platform assistant, he was certain that I was wholly responsible for the delay and felt it necessary to vent his frustration at me for a further 15 minutes!

Perhaps I should time my arrival later to limit the time spent waiting – but then I wouldn’t be secure in the knowledge that I was towards the front of the queue ready to scramble upon the train like a scavenging vulture the minute the door light comes on…

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Breaking from tradition…

Well I am not too sure that I can realistically refer to ‘tradition’ just yet given the relative infancy of my creation but nonetheless, this is certainly a move away from the intended spirit of my blog.

I always feel a little awkward and uncomfortable (for want of a better description) around people begging or frantically shaking charity collection pots in my face as I feel somewhat put on the spot, particularly when in close proximity to ATMs or queues in general.  In the typical instance that I don’t have any spare change, or even any money at all about my person, I am left feeling mean and uncaring which I find a little unjustified.  Although I am selective with my charity, reserving it for what I deem worthy causes or for those begging who make a bit of an effort (be it genuine pleasantry to passers by, selling the big issue, singing or even just refraining from throwing curses and insults at those who decline assistance or don’t give enough) but I wouldn’t consider myself miserly or cold hearted. 

Whilst I don’t expect those in need of a little help to behave akin to a performing monkey, nor be overly grateful for any assistance given, I do appreciate some minor recognition that, for the vast majority of society, every penny in a persons pocket has been worked for and usually isn’t in abundance (especially in the current austerity).  I accept that thankfully I am fortunate enough to never have been in the position where I have had to resort to appealing for financial assistance from anyone (other than a bank or my parents) so I acknowledge that I am not particularly representative of the collective that I am passing judgment on.  Nonetheless, surely it makes sense to make those who you wish to give money to you relaxed, comfortable and willing?  So, particularly in reference to disgruntled recipients of spare change (where they themselves consider the amount given is insultingly small), every penny counts and by berating the giver for what you deem an offensively small pittance, just puts people off giving anything at all in fear of reprisal?

Anyway, back to the actual premise of today’s blog - as those in good old Blighty will be all too aware, the temperature has dipped quite considerably this past week and with the nights drawing in increasingly early (NB – daylight saving this weekend) standing around outside of an evening is hardly an enjoyable experience.  So whilst I had a mix of pity and rage (for reasons aforementioned) with regard to the homeless person camped out at the bus stop on my way home, I did feel inclined to give the chap a quid in the hope that it would at least get him a warm drink.  However, what happened next made me feel all warm and fuzzy (and more than a little meagre in comparison) – a young bloke cycled past and came to an abrupt stop, resting his bicycle up against some nearby hoarding.  He then trotted back and produced from his bag a rather appetising looking baguette, a fleece and a handful of cash which he promptly presented to the homeless person before, without pause, dashing off back on his merry way – a purely selfless act without any desire for thanks or acknowledgement for his offering.  

That made me ponder that such actions are undoubtedly far more appreciated by those in need and although a quid here or there toward a litre of cider may seem ideal in the short term, a good meal and some long term assistance at keeping warm wins hands down.    

So, breaking away from ‘tradition’ I am going to put myself in to check (and anyone reading this) and prompt one and all to go that little bit further to help someone out, especially during these tough economic times.  A vagrant existence isn’t exactly a lifestyle choice and perhaps I need to be a little less blinkered about how I am made to feel by those seeking charity, and concentrate more on just how I can make their day that little bit easier – be it a chat, a bite to eat, a coffee or just whatever money I can muster, however scant…

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tuesday's Rage...

So Tuesday is possibly my least favoured day of the week – primarily as I no longer feel refreshed from the weekend past and the next weekend seems so very far away. As such, the work day drags (I always find Mondays fly by even if the weekend has been less than relaxing) and I tend to struggle for motivation for the more arduous tasks. This obviously isn’t helped by my commute, with Tuesdays raising additional trials of patience just to make the day all that but harder.

My gripe is in respect of weekly bus passes, with Tuesday apparently the day of choice to purchase (I can only surmise that this has something to do with bank holiday Mondays). I am always eager for all aspects of life to run on time and to schedule so the resulting delay challenges my patience no end.

It seems despite standing in a queue for what seems like hours waiting for the arrival of a bus, a ridiculously large number of people will not utilise this otherwise wasted time to get their fare or ticket handy in readiness for boarding. I must admit that women, given their want to carry a handbag with them wherever they go (cramming in as many worldly possessions as they can muster), are usually the worst offenders in this regard and as such, usually rank towards the top of my mental hit list (don’t even get me started on the frantic ringing mobile phone handbag scramble)!

It seems bus drivers also share my pain and too seem quite put out when a weekly bus pass is requested. Not only does it mean that notes are tendered (thereby pillaging their precious stock of change), it also involves having to place the printed ticket in to a holder and sticking down some sticky back plastic. This all takes time and as a result, you can rely on the bus reaching every stop later than usual (providing even more opportunity to ready your fare!) which invariably results in a collective fluster for all passengers eager to catch a connecting train/bus service.

Buses and trains also seem to be busier on a Tuesday. This I imagine has something to do with fewer passengers on a Monday (perhaps taking a long weekend or having overslept from a heavy weekend) but I don’t imagine it is particularly any busier than a Wednesday or Thursday – it just seems that way as I am already in a bad mood merely in expectation of the day ahead. This means that space and seating is a premium commodity on all forms of transport and sweaty frotting seems the order of the day – not ideal (even to the most willing recipient of the frot I imagine).

So, if you want to make one small change which will make your life, and those around you, that little less testing – try having your bus fare or travel ticket handy upon arrival at the bus stop/station. Not only will it keep things moving with relative ease thereby improving the life of those around you, it will also stop me wanting to pull your handbag from your rummaging grasp and beat you round the head with it…

Friday, 22 October 2010


As set out in my post Study Aid… a regular feature during my commute is the Radiographer.  Now, not that this should really have any bearing on the matter, but the Radiographer is a very pretty young lady indeed (possibly why she caught my attention initially!).  However, one should not be fooled by the attractive veneer as within minutes of being in her company, I would challenge anyone, even the most tolerant of people, not to be repelled by her!

As previously explained she is a newly qualified radiographer and is somewhat proud of that fact (as she has every right to be given the reported national shortage).  For those around her who may be hard of hearing (she seems to raise it in every telephone conversation she has – and she tends to be talking loudly on her mobile phone throughout the duration of her journey) she helpfully wears her staff pass in the most prominent position possible.  Whether her hair is up or down, or whether wearing a coat or braving the elements without, she ensures that her staff pass is ever visible to those around.  Just to be certain, though without any apparent thought or intention, she regularly gives the staff pass a reassuring pat to check it is still present (akin to someone having a moments thought about the location of their keys or wallet about their person) and fully on display for all to see. 

To give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she is particularly fastidious about following some protocol set down by her employer which other workers  commonly disregard (including the NHS Crew who are presumably employed by the same NHS Trust); or maybe she has a habit of falling asleep on the train and hopes that the staff pass will act as a prompt for those around her to wake her up as she approaches her station stop.  Who am I trying to kid?!

The thing that I find most abhorrent is her clear loathing of the trainee radiographers.  Having just qualified herself, you would imagine that she would feel some affection toward and affiliation with the eager trainees, offering support, advice and direction to assist them on their way to qualification.  Conversely, the Radiographer seemingly prefers the tough love approach and takes great joy in recounting the shortcomings of her colleagues – perhaps not the wisest of things given the ease of identifying her hospital (the catchment hospital for many a passenger on the train).  From the content of her tales of widespread ineptitude, I am somewhat relieved that, save in the case of an emergency, any radiography requirements I should have would take place at another hospital entirely!

Clearly the Radiographer must be intelligent given the requirement for either a BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography or a BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy so I can only assume she is aware of the effect she has on others.  Maybe she is on to something and I should seek to emulate her overt feelings of self-worth and embrace such narcissistic tendencies as a lifestyle choice for myself.   On second thoughts, perhaps not…