Asking thousands of Australian commuters about their pet peeves of rail travel is akin to opening Pandora’s Box – all of our darkest secrets and frustrations burst out for the entire world to see. Which of course makes for humours reading.
With the exception of normal complaints such as delays, overcrowding and trains generally being a bit yuck, we invited rail passengers across the country to vent their spleens. This is what we found…
Keep your voice down!
It was a close race to the top of the annoying charts, but passengers who think it’s perfectly OK to have loud personal conversations on the train are worthy winners. These people often have no dignity. Does the entire carriage need to know about your weekend plans, or that you’ve got an ingrown toenail? The answer is no, and 53% of respondents to our survey agree that these people need to sort their lives out.
Please don’t sit next to me…
Second place on this list of train pet peeves is a tie between two groups of passengers you can only pray don’t sit next to you. We’re talking, of course, about smelly people… and the sick. In any normal circumstances, people with a cold would have our sympathy, but the train ride home is not the real world – it’s a parallel universe where traditional standards of tolerance are not applied. It’s every man for himself, and don’t you dare give me your germs! As for smelly people, what can you say? You can only sit there, try not to breathe, and hope they get off at the next stop. Both of these groups annoy 51% of us.
Talking of pet peeves, check out this video from Transperth, the rail operator in Western Australian. They’ve used actual pets to illustrate their top tips for improving trips.
Next up are passengers who think it’s OK to be generally rude or aggressive. Now, the thing about travelling at busy times is, there’s really no point being an A-hole. In fact, you shouldn’t be one at any time, whether it’s on a train, platform or queuing for a coffee. There is often a sense that ‘we’re all in it together’ when things get a bit bleak on the train ride home at the end of another draining day at the office, so taking your frustration out on other people is not acceptable. Half of survey respondents (50%) agreed these people are jerks.
Oh, that’s a good song!
After the big four complaints above, the next most complained about pet peeve of train travel gets just 41% of us worked up – maybe we’re all just old fuddy-duddies! Actually, no, we’re not, because people who think it’s OK to play their music out loud on the train are up there with puppy killers in the eyes of this author. What planet do these people come from? How arrogant of them to think everyone else on the train shares their taste in music! Although, the reality is they just don’t give a hoot about the people around them.
There’s something about confined spaces and loud children that just drives some people crazy. If you’re trying to work, or just get some rest on a train, noisy or misbehaving children are the last thing you need. More than one in three (38%) adults in our survey get wound up by kids on trains. Again, standards of normal tolerance are left on the station platform.
Don’t touch me!
The thing about sharing a train carriage with 100 other people is that you’re bound to touch each other. Whether it’s because the train has suddenly slowed down, or gone round a bend – it’s inevitable. People will accept this and usually think nothing of it when someone else’s arm brushes yours. However, it’s when someone hasn’t made enough effort to respect your personal space that things change. That’s exactly why ‘people who stand too close’ and ‘people pushing past’ are the next on our hit list of pet peeves. Both groups frustrate 28% of us.
Do you mind?
Have you ever sat opposite some bloke slouched in his seat, with his legs pretty much wide open? Sure, he’s just sitting comfortably, but he’s also taking up way too much space – and making it difficult for the person opposite to look forward! About one in four (26%) respondents to our survey said people who take up too much space get their backs up. This can include our friend the sloucher, our people who just get a bit too close with their newspaper or laptop. And don’t get me started on people who leave their bags on seats, so others need to ask for their permission to sit down!
Can’t we all just get along?
In addition to the subjects already mentioned above, there are plenty of other things that wind people up on the train, including passengers who try to start conversations with you when you’re clearly not in the mood! So what’s the solution? Well, as your parents may have taught you, it’s nice to treat people exactly how you would like to be treated. So be nice, be respectful, be considerate, and turn your bloody music off.