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Traumatic Train Tales 01: Unwanted Oral Projectiles

Let's face it. Commuting can be a real pain in the rear. No-one likes to commute. Going to work, and back, every day. It gets monotonous, tiring, and mundane.

However, there are times when commuting has its... 'moments'. During my time in England, I have experienced some of the strangest, weirdest, and 'disgustingest' things, and I feel that now enough time has past since and that I can reveal them to the general public.

Read on... if you dare.

First of all, let me set you up with my particular scenario. I work in London - in the middle of the city to be exact. This helps me put myself on two different types of trains. The London Underground (affectionately called the Tube), and the surface rail system. Most of my friends think me mad for doing this every single day, and they would be right. But then again, a little bit of madness can be a good thing, at least I tell myself that.

Now you know that much, you have to get to know the layout of the English trains. More specifically, the train company known as "First Capital Connect", which apparently has one of the worst ratings of scheduled trains in the UK. I think the worst is one of the south-going trains, but I'm not worried about them. In order to understand this story, you need to get a picture in your mind as to what the trains look like from the inside.

The trains are designed as such: As soon as you walk in through the doors, you have the entrance, which has these two glass panels on your left and right that are used to separate the entrance/exit area from the seating area. This area is:
  1. Not carpeted 
  2. Where all the trashcans reside
  3. Where all the people leave their bikes
  4. Where all the people leave their suitcases
  5. Where all the people leave their baby strollers, carriages, etc
  6. Where all the people who don't have seats sit down

    Whatever the case, people who usually board the train at the last minute decide to cramp themselves into these areas (where these trains doors are) and remain there for the duration of the commute. I think they do it to do some sort of community bonding. Like how all the people in the seats usually act all hoity-toity and have this 'holier-than-thou' attitude. The non-seating people must then get insulted and feel inadequate, so they band together to comfort one another.

    (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

    The meaning of this is that if you didn't get a seat, you're usually stuck standing in the middle of the entrance and exit area of the train squished in between people trying to get to the same destination with you. Very rarely do the people move into the aisle where the seats are, and those that do always seem to feel sad and awkward. Although it is somewhat bad, it is nothing compared to Japan.

    (Not as bad as this)

    So, here I am, running to catch the train at the busiest time of day. Of course, as I am running to catch the train I notice that there is an army of people standing on the platform. The trains not only have been delayed, but the train that was supposed to couple with the train on the platform had just been cancelled. So now, instead of 8 carriages for everyone to get in, it's down to 4. This was a build-up of 2 cancelled trains. So, essentially, there were three trains worth of people to be crammed into half a full train!

    Keep in mind that this was also back in the day when the typical train only carried 8 carriages. Now they've added 4 more nowadays to make it 12, so it's actually got room and most people can actually get a seat. So when I say it was crowded, I mean it was really crowded. You couldn't pick your nose without touching someone's butt. Every time you inhaled someone's face was there to breathe out coffee breath air at that particular moment. I was horrible. We were crammed in there like canned sardines, but still not as bad as the Japanese though. At least, I don't think so.

    Sadly, this was a common occurrence at the time. Cancellations and delays were so common, that it became a surprise when the trains actually went on time. So now, every single person, including people who have been waiting for nearly an hour, had to cram into 4 carriages instead of 8, which would have still been a tight squeeze. And you can tell that no-one wants to wait, because everyone knows its a matter of time before the next train is delayed or cancelled, so everyone is getting on this train. You could see it in their eyes. They were going to get on this train. Ain't nothing was going to stop them.

    As soon as the doors open, it was as if they train's doors were vacuum cleaners and the people were dust balls. They crammed into the train (almost like they do in Japan). It was as if I was caught up in a river; a river of angry Brits, rushing towards the train.

    Suffice to say, I manage to get onto the train just as the last whistle was blown and the conductor pushes the 'go' button. The doors slammed shut, and the people who couldn't get on the train started to scream and shout profanities (not literally). I felt a little smug. I'm sure there was this sadistic smile on my face as I am crammed in the train's entrance mashed up against a the transparent plastic-glass, peering into the main seating area.

    So here we are, chugging along, when we get to the first station. So now, not only is the train over crowded, but now you get a bunch more people struggling to get on (not as bad as Japan). Sadly, only a few lucky ones managed to clamber aboard. Due to this, more people were forced to walk down the aisles to stand in the middle area next to the people sitting down on the seats.  So now, it was already ridiculously crowded.

    On we go, we keep on going until we reach the next station. Then again, more people are piling on! This forced whatever breathing room we had left to be used up literally forcing us to fill up every inch of the train with people. I was surprised that no-one decided to put themselves in the over-head area. That was how crowded it was. But still, not as bad as Japan, but it was getting close.

    Now, when you're squished up against a wall, there really isn't much to do. But I was lucky. Since the wall in front of me was transparent and I could look inside the seating area. And trust me, I was silently cursing those that had managed to find comfortable seats, wishing ill of them, when my eye caught something... strange.

    There was a man, not too old, maybe in his 40's, wearing a business suit, standing about 5 or 6 feet away from me in the aisle where the seats were. I was looking at him through the glass partition. At first it looked as if he seemed to be dancing, the way he was moving his body looked like an inch-worm standing up. He was making this wave motions with his body, and seemed to be swaying from side to side. It took me a few more seconds to realize that he wasn't dancing, he was gagging. And no-one else paid him any attention. I watched, intrigued by this. Here was a man, standing in the middle of a over-crowded train, trying to hold back his breakfast.

    Suffice to say, it didn't last. About a minute later...

    (Picture just to give you an idea)

    The man let it out. And when I say out, I mean all out. Every thing that could have possibly been stored in his stomach returned from whence it came. What also bewildered me was that instead of facing downwards, towards the ground, to minimize the damage, the man was looking straight towards me, and when his episode started, he turned his head away from my direction, and managed to do a complete 180 degree turn. His projectiles therefore did not head down towards his feet, but outwards like a fountain of semi-digested food almost on every single passenger in the carriage! He managed to hit as many people as he possibly could.

    Now, this is the situation. An over-crowded train had just been hit by a puke-bomb of great magnitude.
    Everyone in the carriage (well, most of them at least) has some amount of vomit on them. So, here's the million dollar question: what do you do?

    Whatever you answer is, you certainly DO NOT PULL THE EMERGENCY BREAK!

    Yes. That's exactly what someone did. Thinking that it was perhaps a bio-weapon, some hero decided that pulling the emergency break would be a good idea. So, here we are, miles in the middle of nowhere, a train full of people with vomit attached to their clothing, with no air circulating (because the train has stopped), in the heat. It took every ounce of strength I had not to let my own stomach release its contents. 

    After around 15 minutes, the train reversed back towards the last station. Everyone got off the train and threw themselves on the slow train (that stops at all the stations along the way). 

    I am not sure what happened to those that were unlucky enough to get touched by semi-digested contents of the man's innards, but to this day I refuse to sit in the middle two carriages of any First Capital Connect train. I would rather stand the entire duration than sit in what could possibly be the Vomit Train.


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