If you belong to one of the following categories:
1. you don’t have a driving license
2. you have a driving license but you don’t want to add to the already high number of road hazards
3. you have a driving license and are ready to become another road hazard but you are too poor to own the piece of paper that allows you to own a vehicle
4. you are too poor to cab all over the place (or every bloody cab you try to flag reads ‘on call’)
Then you probably have no choice but to be one of the 9,753,486,257 sardines freshly packed on the bus/MRT every day. i.e. one of them below:
Credits to Iggy for this photo!
If so, then you probably have at some point of time met some form of living thing on the bus/mrt that has unsettled you. (I use the term ‘living thing’ loosely because some of them seem quite dead/asleep to me whenever a pregnant woman or jittery old man boards the train/bus)
If so, then you should read the following chunk of junk and see if they resonate with you. Based on over 20 years’ experience of taking public transport, I present to you, types of commuters that make my journey so interesting/intriguing/IRRITATING. (and how to counter them)
1. The extraordinarily well-endowed
These are people (mostly only guys) who sit with their legs so wide open that you can feel their leg hairs tickling you. Yes I know you have huge reproductive organs (like, huuuge) and the aforementioned organs need their own personal space, else your balls get all scrunched up. But it so happens that people sitting beside you need their space as well, and your leg hairs are infringing theirs. And please refrain from doing this especially when you’re wearing shorts!!
Counter: Speaking from a male’s perspective, a hard kick to the groin will make them close their legs in a jiffy. But you bear the legal consequences.
2. The heavy feet
Remember what you wrote in your primary school compo.. “I walked home with heavy footsteps…” or something like that? Well, there are people with heavy feet, literally. These are people who don’t move inwards when boarding, and you realize the middle of the train is empty when it moves away—but it is too late. Till today it still remains a mystery to me as to why they don’t move in. Maybe they are relatives of the type below.
Counter: Number 17
3. The 门神
Passengers who want to be 门神 and camp at the doors. There are slight variations in the species spotted on buses and MRT. For buses, they usually move in and camp at the EZ link card reader at the exit. For MRT, they just stay at the doors and 面门思过. But there are common characteristics. When others want to alight, they refuse to give way, or don’t want to step out of the train to let people out. Instead, they twist and turn their flexible bodies and do moonwalks here and there. (门神 roughly means ‘door deity’, as seen in the picture below)
Counter: None—don’t mess with deities.
4. The Olympic runners
People who dash inside the train once the door opens, without letting others come out first. Such people just bash in all the way..all in the name of looking for a seat. But they don’t realise that if people inside don’t come out, they can’t set their butts on the seat—they can only look at it. (Olympic runners can be seen at lifts as well, rushing in headlong without waiting for people inside the lift to come out)
To quote this website, these people behave:
like those poor souls rushing out of the gates of Hell during Hungry Ghosts Festival; except that these ghosts are rushing in!
Counter: None—not even Wile E. Coyote can stop them for long.
5. The loudhailers
Most of the time one carriage has only one of them. Not because they are rare, only because the loudest one drowns out everyone else. Such people either have something wrong with their ears or something wrong with their brains: usually they talk loudly on the phone when they they can’t hear the other person properly, and they firmly believe that by screaming into the phone, it helps them hear better. I believe the person on the other end of the phone hates the guy as much as we do.
(But then again we should thank such guys for satisfying our inner eavesdropping desires—I’m sure we’re all pretty excited to find out what’s for his dinner tonight, or what his urologist has to say about his test results)
Counter: Mobile radio stations (refer below)
6. The mobile radio stations
Such people have the kindest of all intentions I’m sure, but to quote from one of the forums,
I really don’t want to listen to the top 100 techno hits at 8 am in the morning. Actually…I don’t want to listen to the top 100 techno hits. Period.
I don’t have an issue with techno hits, but you get the idea. One man’s music is another’s noise. But you may think: why not just put on my earphones and block out the noise music? Well, the worst thing about this is that music is invisible. So if you are unfortunate enough to be sitting/standing next to a mobile radio station, and you having earphones on, be prepared as all eyes will be on you. People probably suspect the music noise is coming from you.
Counter: Loudhailers (situational; see who louder lor)
Interestingly while scouting on the net, I found a series of posters by the Japanese subway, a few of which I think were quite good, so I shall be using them where appropriate. This (left) one’s from here.
7. The nobles
The self-sacrificial types who go to the extent of letting their items have a seat, even if it means they have to stand all the way. After all, if humans need to rest their legs, their fish/veggies need a seat too. So do their leather bags.
Counter: Put a more expensive fish/veggie/bag next to theirs.
I actually found this comic! I thought the woman above was one-of-a-kind. Looks like I was dead wrong.
8. The 情不自禁 couples
Usually I prefer to stand in the train, and my favourite spots include the small plot of land beside the doors (so I can lean against the glass at the end of the row of seats) and the section connecting carriages. But for some reason..I often get a couple or two standing not near me, but like RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. The train is so big but of all places they choose to stand in front of me. Actually I’m fine with couples. Sometimes it’s actually quite a sweet scene. But I’m not fine with couples grinding against each other. For goodness sake, have some basic respect for others will you…when they start, I usually try to siam. But I refuse to give up the hard-earned spot that I 好不容易 camped for. If the train’s very crowded, I really don’t know where to look. Sometimes I think the best thing to do is to stare real hard at them, since I guess that’s what they want others to do. With people like this, how can our birth rates be so low?!
Counter: KPOs (nothing like nosy people to spoil the romantic moment)
9. The busy people
Besides grinding couples, I feel uncomfortable looking at girls putting on makeup while on the train. Maybe they really have no time and can only do so on the train. I know it doesn’t really affect anyone…but I don’t suppose it’s something you should do in public? Imagine a guy who boards the train and starts taking out a mirror and a few tubs of hair gel/wax/clay and starts working towards this end result (left pic):
While looking for the Japanese subway posters, I came across this entry which echoes my sentiments:
One thing that I find bizarre is watching young women putting on makeup.
I’m not talking about just a touch of lipstick, but the precise operation of putting on fake lashes which looks like an eye transplant.
There are certain hazards to putting on makeup on the train as well. Especially lipstick. If the train suddenly screeches to a stop while you’re halfway through the upper lip, you might just end up looking like a bad kid’s drawing.
Counters: Reckless train driver.
10. The even busier people
These people are up one level. They are so busy that that don’t even have time to trim their nails, and have to resort to doing so on the train/buses. When you notice a consistent clicking sound, look around and try to siam before a piece of a fingernail comes zooming your way. Did I say fingernail? Well so far I’ve not been lucky enough to see people cutting their toenails, but once again STOMP has captured the extraordinary.
Looking at the comments on STOMP, some people feel it’s absolutely ok to clip nails on the train. It’s not bothering anyone they say..but I don’t think many would appreciate having pieces of nail, from a stranger, as souvenirs. This is exactly what I mean!
Counter: Get the same driver from number 9. They’ll stop when they clip themselves accidentally.
11. The escalator elephants
(Sorry elephants, no offence) These people are usually oblivious to the fact that every single living thing on the escalator behind him is staring at his butt and coming up with a list of nastiest things to do to it.
Another variation of this species includes (from a forum somewhere):
people who slow down at the end of a packed escalator, or worse, stop suddenly to do whatever important thing, thereby causing the people behind to trip/step on others
Yes, I always seem to get this. Usually they intelligently stop at the end of the escalator to look for their EZ-link card. When there’s probably a million other better places to do so. That’s when my agile sidestepping comes in handy so that the poor person behind me can bang right into the elephant in front.
Counters: Olympic runners (can probably bash through them).
12. The gold diggers
Some people are really not embarrassed to pick their nose, ear and any orifice they can stick their finger in. (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating) And some can be so engrossed in it, you’d think they’re trying to dig their brains out. The thing is, they are not afraid of you looking. And this is one of those things in life where you really don’t want to look but you know you’d regret not looking. Sauce here.
Speaking of which, I saw this young woman on the train sometime ago…She got something stuck in her teeth I suppose. Couldn’t really see what it was NO I DID NOT TRY TO LOOK! REALLY! And during the whole journey she was trying to get it out in the most discreet way possible, i.e.
1. Take a photo of self, baring teeth using iPhone.
2. Look at iPhone, estimate rough position of unidentified object in teeth, start digging.
3. Rinse and repeat.
So as most of you know, the old iPhones dont’ have a front-facing camera, so she was blindly trying to take photos of her teeth by pointing the back of the phone at herself. So I assume you are smart enough to make the connection—if you were in front of her, you would be treated to an awesome sight of the camera i.e. a snapshot of her teeth, with the unidentified object stuck there. Thankfully I wasn’t in front of her.
Counter: None—but the teeth people would probably borrow a mirror from number 9.
13. The pole-dancers
I suppose the name is self-explanatory. Sometimes you are glad they move away by themselves, but regret it immediately when your fingers clasp the pole and you realise the pole-dancer had a sweaty back. Luckily the poles on the new trains are tri-poles (is there such a word?).
Counter: Gold diggers—plant some in the same carriage so that they would smear their gold on the pole.
14. The London workers
No, they don’t work in London. They’re just workers playing the game London Bridge and attempting to kill while airing their armpits. You get them both on the train and the bus. To quote from a forum:
Workers forming a bridge of smelly armpits (raised arms) across the door of the MRT. Have to pass under their bushes (which stink!) to get out.
I can understand if there’re pole dancers in the same carriage and there’s nothing else to hold on to except the higher railings. But some people just don’t bother to notice if their armpits are smothering someone else even when there are free poles to hold on to! And some even take the trouble to air both pits—switching hands after some time, to make sure they get equal ventilation I suppose.
Counter: Be taller than everyone else. (or just give up and tune in to the Armpit Channel to distract yourself from the smell)
15. The seat hogs
Only spotted on buses. Some people love hogging the outside seat so as to discourage people from sitting with them. I don’t know what’s their problem really…if they have so much of an issue with people sitting next to them, either drive or get a cab! Oh wait. They probably can’t stand being in the cab with the cabby.
But then again you won’t want to sit next to seat hogs..they probably smell bad. After all when there are no more empty double seats left on the bus, you would naturally pick the least-creepy looking person to sit with. Seat hogs probably know that they’re creepy and want to deter people from being creeped out.
Granted, some of them would automatically make way to let others sit on the inside. But not without throwing dirty looks your way and then shifting their ass grudgingly, as if they’re doing you a TOTALLY HUGE FAVOUR. Why can’t they move their butts in? I would still let you out when you need to alight you know. Even when it’s the next stop.
Counters: London workers (so that they would sit inside to avoid the armpit aroma)
16. The KPOs
Yup, you guessed right. Kaypoh commuters who like to peek over your shoulder and read the SMS you’re typing, the paper you’re reading, what video you watching. Ok I admit, I’ve done it before, but only peeking at the headlines of newspapers and things like that (especially when the headlines are eye-catching enough, i.e. trashy gossipy type).
And maybe the occasional glance at what he/she is SMSing..
But some people do it really openly. And you really want to do something about it. But most of the time I don’t mind actually. Like when I used to watch Bleach on my iPhone. They can enjoy the cool Hitsugaya fighting scenes all they like.
Counters: London workers (the aroma would be too strong to concentrate on reading properly)
17. The jelly legs
What to do when you can’t find a seat in a perfectly crowded train and you have jelly legs? Sit down on the floor near the doors of the train to block the way! If it were some frail person or if someone was feeling unwell I would understand, but I often see teenagers sitting down on the floor in groups right by the entrance. Usually it wouldn’t matter because you just raise your legs a bit higher to cross over them, but there was once during peak hours where I boarded the train at Raffles Place (together with what felt like the whole Singaporean population) and we could barely squeeze inside the train. Then I realised there was this teenager sitting down on the floor right beside the entrance, leaning against the row of seats. It didn’t bother him that there was barely any space to stand, and people were trying to stop themselves from tripping over him. It didn’t help that the same many people alighted at Tanjong Pagar, trying to make their way out while not kicking him in the face (accidentally). Too bad I don’t have a picture of it =/
Counter: Heavy feet (depends on who gets the spot at the entrance first)
18. The gan jiong spiders
Basically, they’re people who go “eskew me, eskew me” or “scuse, scuse” when the train is damn full and the doors are not even open yet. Hello, the train is so packed and the doors haven’t open, how you want me to excuse you? You think I Casper ah? Besides, I occupy less space than most of the human race, so even if I make space for you, I doubt you can fit into the space I once occupied. And sometimes I tell them I’m alighting at the same stop as them but they die die want to squeeze to the front. Eh, no prize for getting to the escalator first la. The escalator won’t run away also. If you’re really lucky, you can spot another rare species: those who elbow their way through without even saying “scuse me, scuse me”.
Counter: 门神 (For good measure, as many of them as possible. Best if they hold their position even after countless “excuse me, excuse me”)
19. The card reader cleaners
Some people are very kind, and like to help SMRT and SBS clean their EZ link card readers. After all, so many commuters use the readers everyday…so it must be dirty! So, they will 順便 help wipe the readers with their huge bags/thick wallets/purses. How do they do that? Well, they bury the Ez link card in the bowels of their bags/wallets/purses to make sure the reader cannot detect it on the first try. Then they will keep rubbing the bag/wallet/purse on the reader to make sure it is clean and free of dust, before taking out the card manually to scan it.
Another kind of species I see is old uncles with EZ link cards in their breast pockets, then lowering themselves to align their chest to the card reader, which looks utterly retarded. You think you playing limbo rock ar?
As put hilariously (albeit crudely) by this website:
You see a beautiful and confident looking woman strutting out of the train alongside with you, heading down to the ticketing gates. As you tap your card against the card reader, on the gate next to you, you see the same woman frantically masturbating her handbag on the reader with a crowd of annoyed commuters behind her.
Maybe we are aware that card readers are not magical sensors that can read through inches of fabric, and as well as a ton of other types of magnetic cards like your office door’s access key.
Please for goodness sake exercise some common sense and stop masturbating your bag on the card reader. For one thing you are holding up the people behind you, and secondly it’s a damn idiotic sight. Just take out the fucking EZ-Link card and tap! Is it that hard???
20. The gold diggers v2.0
(Or if anyone can suggest a better name…)
They dig for different stuff. They do nothing while waiting for the bus/train, and when it arrives, they get all flustered and start ransacking their bags for their EZ link cards. But instead of having the decency to stand aside to find their cards, they either keep flipping their bags left and right or simply have their feet glued to the floor while being oblivious to the entire queue behind them. To quote from the same website again,
As the bus pulls up to a stop, you will see her sprinting like Mona Kunalan towards the rear door only to discover that she does not have her EZ-Link card out with her! Two things will then happen next…
One would be her desperately trying to masturbate the card reader with her massively cavernous handbag, praying against all hope that the machine has the sensitivity of telescope.
Or she would attempt to hold up everyone trying to alight the bus by diving into the “sea” for her “pearls”. She would dig and dig within her bag, occasionally withdrawing her hands clutching some thoroughly useless item before diving in again.
And with that we come to the end of the list. But before I end off, there’s a few bits and pieces of interesting stuff I found while scouting online to write this post.
1. Apparently Japan’s subway has its own problems, mostly with drunk salarymen and their making “pavement pizzas”:
The last one is about people flinging their wet umbrellas around I suppose.
Another bonus picture here (don’t click if you’re eating..I WARNED YOU)
2. Have you ever tried to act cool when with your friends on the train and not hold on to any pole? Well, be warned.
3. BUTTSWEAT LOL.
4. Some incredible sights on board the train, courtesy of STOMP.
What to do if you can’t find a seat on the bus? Why, BYOS–bring your own seat of course!
And if you have too much to carry after a hectic day at NTUC, use the trolley la. After all, you paid $1 for it.
5. Well, I didn’t write about people not giving up seats to others, because they’ve paid their fare and Singaporeans being Singaporeans (me included) generally don’t speak up when we meet situations like that.
I didn’t write about commuters eating on buses/trains as well, because it doesn’t really bother me, apart from the smell sometimes. Unless…I meet someone eating a Filet-O-Fish in my face, on the days when I leave school at 7pm on an empty stomach (and can only eat dinner past 8pm). I might just kill him.
GODAMIT I’M DROOLING (the last two pictures looks a bit disgusting…but I wouldn’t mind trying a bite)