Monday, 31 January 2011

Happily Missed Connections


I am introducing a new feature, where I am going to write a Missed Connections ad a week based on my many adventures in public transport. Like Kiss & Ride, but all my own. I spend an awful lot of time on public transport, you know. Guest submissions for particularly regrettable or searing encounters on public transport are welcome.

27th January, Central Line, Westbound, 23:30

You: mid 30s, suit, sandy hair, possibly a small beard, unsteady on your feet. Me: jeans, glasses, black coat, reading Polly Samson's Perfect Lives. You grabbed my book and told me you thought the cover was pornographic, then asked me "if it's rude", with a sort of unfocussed leer. I told you it was middle class wistfulness not porn, unless you found piano tuning erotic. I showed you the back cover quotes, which you squinted at, then pointed at the word "romp" and said "Romp!" and laughed. Then you swayed back against the upholstered window ledge bit of the carriage, nodding to yourself.

You told me you "had a book in my bag but I've had a few drinks so I'm not reading it". I asked you what it was but you said you couldn't remember. You said you had "read a good book once". I asked what it was but you said you couldn't remember, then, just as I got off the train at Notting Hill Gate you shouted "Carlos Ruiz Zafon!" after me, the last syllable truncated by the closing doors.

22 comments:

Mrs Trefusis... said...

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, eh? Any man with that in his bag, drunken leering not withstanding, would get my vote. Go girl. I'm very much afraid that my kiss and ride would turn out to have a copy of Nuts or, worse, Paul Auster in his bag.

Waffle said...

I strongly suspect he was reading it off a poster in the station...

Mrs Trefusis... said...

Ah,not so drunk he couldn't read a poster then? That's a good sign in a man, I find.

A Student Cook said...

I just get amazing and worrying train announcements. So often does this happen that I’ve a) started to think it’s not an accident and b) collect them as what must be the weirdest hobby ever.
Three prime examples.
1. During the snow fiasco that effectively stopped all trains in England just before Christmas, on the Hastings line a train guard sweetly announced over the tannoy that could passengers ' please mind the gap between the timetable and reality'! Comic genius.
2. The driver of a train from waterloo to Southampton advised all passengers to 'not take the train on Saturday.... Not one word of explanation and said in a slightly threatening tone. I really thought i had imagined it but the old lady opposite me was also perplexed.
3. It’s always comforting when your train driver (Kings Cross – York) has a little rant over the tannoy about how stressed he is because of understaffing and annual leave.

soleils said...

Waffle, perhaps I am a little fragile today, but I find this account quite poetic. And I agree with Mrs Trefusis, any man who has read or even knows about Zafón gets my attention.
A student cook: your comment is priceless. The gap between the timetable and reality is an absolutely genius concept. Thank you!
I also love it when train drivers decide to practice their GCSE French/German/Esperanto on unsuspecting (and usually oblivious) foreign visitors (I regularly get trains/the DLR to Greenwich in London).
Waffle, this new feature is going to bear much fruit in the shape of lovely funny anecdotes. Love it.

Miss Underscore said...

Oh, I agree, I think that was quite a poignant and tender encounter. But then, my life is totally bereft of romance, so I am inclined to romanticise such moments.

I expect an interaction with a drunken rogue on the Tyne and Wear Metro would go something like this. . .

Him: What are you reading pet?

Me: A book

Him: A book? (pronounced boooooooooooook)

Me: Yes.

Him: Aye. A book eh? (pause) Show us your tits pet.

ganching said...

Once on the DLR the train guard announced that every every train on the network had been halted due to the computer going down. He hoped we would be on our way soon as someone back at the office was going to press ctrl, alt and del and it that didn't work they were going to try switching it on and off. I have never felt safe on the DLR since.

Patience_Crabstick said...

Hilarious.
I've had a few public transportation encounters. Once, the bus driver and a passenger started shouting at each other. That was a little scary.
Last winter, I was standing at a bus stop, getting covered with snow. I heard a man near me make a sort of incoherent sound, like he was saying to himself, "just get on with it" and he thrust his umbrella over my head. It turned out we lived near each other and we got off at the same stop and he walked me most of the way home.

Alienne said...

I was sitting on a number 11 at the traffic lights at the end of Whitehall and the bus driver opened his window to chat to the driver of the bus next door, not realising his microphone was on. So everyone on the bus could hear him telling his mate all about his lovely shiny new bus and how wonderful it was. Cheered me up no end!

Knackered Mother said...

Yes, yes, yes, got travel stories but more importantly did you find other boot? Or did you curl up and fall asleep on the deceptively comfortable sofas in the shoe boutique in Liberty's? Agreed, any man that says Zafon immediately becomes more good looking. Zafon goggles. So much better than beer.

Em said...

Not so big on public transport down under - we like to drive everywhere and pollute our clean, green image.

But one trip has unfortunately stayed with me. When on holiday in New Caledonia we caught a bus out to a beach. An Australian girl got on and before sitting down took off her shirt. She had nothing underneath and spent an extrodinary amount of time searching in her bag for her bikini top. While standing and arching her back.
The bus driver rearranged his mirror to get the full picture and we sat in stifling heat while she starred in her own wee soft porn and he shifted about in his seat.
I don't think anyone breathed for fear of sounding pervy.

Margaret said...

Will you all please stop talking to strangers on public transportation! You worry me. If drunk/pervy guys try to engage you, just give them the stink eye and say Go away firmly and loudly. After that you can move onto Fuck off! and handbag bashing. Stop being so ladylike. Lord, all of you are giving me agita.

Waffle said...

See, Margaret, I think the problem is being English. I just can't bring myself to say 'go away'. Or even 'go away please'. Or anything. If I am ever murdered it will be because of some kind of social embarassment induced scenario, I am quite sure.

Alison said...

I once encountered an enigmatic drunk on a long train journey between Bath and London. It was well before noon, and as he sipped his can of strong lager he told me a tale of revenge, political intrigue, and grotesque irony. It involved a wronged husband in South Africa, a shotgun, Nelson Mandela and those little tube cases that hold reading glasses. That's all I'm saying because one day I'll make a novel out of it.

Alison Cross said...

I'm with Mrs T - a man sober enough to read the poster is good enough. A man sober enough and who actually DOES read the poster has got to be a good bet.

I'm not going to dwell on the 'romp' thing. No-one's perfect.

My own encounter on a train, many years ago, was from Glasgow to Birmingham where I was to spend the weekend visiting my boyfriend.

A man sat down at the table next to me, terribly handsome, and we talked and laughed together all the way down south. I had a feeling that my luck might be in, but as we pulled into New Street, we both smiled shyly and got off.

I then did something entirely out of character - chased after him and apologetically asked for his number. Which he gave me.

I spent the whole weekend with my soon to be ex-boyfriend fantasising about the wonderful new relationship I was about to embark upon. This Could Be It, I mused.

I got home to discover that I'd accidentally thrown out the sweetie paper that he'd had to scribble his number down on.

*sigh* Oh for what might have been.....

Dara said...

No train encounters here. I do have a scary Manhattan taxi ride experience to tell. Imagine getting into a cab that reeked of incense and loud middle eastern music with a cabbie that keeps screaming at you about something you can quite understand. Not because of any language barrier, but because he is screaming at the top of his lungs. I didn't know what to do or say to him. He drove like a madman and I kept asking him to politely lower the music so we could hear each other, to which he replied by screaming at me incoherently whilst increasing the volume. I finally told him to pull over and let me out. Thankfully he complied but berated me with more crazy yelling because I'd only tipped him two dollars. Now, I stick with subways mostly on my trips to the big city. Much more pleasant.

Grit said...

See me? Alone in a crowd on a station platform. The wheel of the moon turning, light beam glancing the silken track. Our gaze sweeps by, our eyes look to the barriers ahead, our mouths search for the words. I look away, stutter, 'Er, sorry, actually, yes, um sorry, oops, er oh dear sorry.' You. Man with extending two metre pole with metal hook at the end and walky talky to central control room. You, who speak only Cantonese, paid minimum wage for late night shift to attend to stupid arm waving foreigners who drop stuff down gaps on electric railway tracks. Our romance? Lost forever, in the gap on the 18.30 platform 3, southbound.

Lisa-Marie said...

I think the man is crossed of the list as terrible if he thinks a hand on a statues breast is pornographic, drunk or not.

My most recent 'encounter' was on a train from Glasgow to Dundee. I had been in town having lunch with my freinds. I got on the train, marginally tipsy and looking forward to sitting on the nice train with my book. Into the carriage came an older man and two men about my age. They then proceeded to play 'The Sash'(Protestant song) on harmonica?! and ask me if I wanted to 'have a wee swally' with them 'hen', having produced a couple of cans of Tennents.

I moved to the next carriage.

Anonymous said...

I once heard this rather gleeful announcement over the tannoy on the train, as we arrived at Birmingham New Street, pre-smoking ban, half an hour late:

"I expect a lot of you are filled with pent up rage, and desperate for a cigarette. Well, Birmingham New Street is a no-smoking station. Sorry!"

Katy Holliday said...

I think I know that guy..Did he smell of directors?

Julie said...

I was accosted by a drunken man and his bag of ladies' panties on a Heidelberg streetcar. He was insistent that we all, "Riech' mal die Slips" (Take a Smell of These Panties). He tossed them to the passengers, who ignored him in their typical German fashion. He was also swinging from the handle like a monkey. Once the panties hit the driver, however, he stopped the bus and shoved the man off.

This man and I rode the same line everyday. Another time, he pinned me between the seat and window and tried to mumble sweet nothings in my ear. I ignored him (per cultural protocol), until he started pulling at my jacket. A man across the aisle finally came to my rescue. He stood up and kicked him flat-footed in the chest. My molester stumbled off at the next stop.

Oh, finally a crazy Muslim cab driver tried to save me from certain hell during my commute to LAX. The sun was just coming up as we pulled up to the departure area. He got out and started proselytizing at my feet, and wouldn't let me go. I kept trying to shove the cab fare in his hands, as he continued to pray to Allah for me and himself. It is no coincidence that I was flagged my security a few minutes later for a "more thorough search," and was locked in a TSA booth for 20 minutes, while they ran my information.

This is why I mostly drive myself now.

Rachel said...

I saw an angel on the tube once. I was sitting alone in the outside seat of four, reading a book. When I looked up he was sitting on the inside seat on the opposite side to me, next to the window. He categorically had NOT walked past me. He was black and white and silver, like watching a black and white film I felt incredibly peaceful as we looked at each other. I looked away and he was gone. I am not mad or weird.