Mad Skillz: How to get a good seat on a train

If I could pick one person in the blogosphere to meet in real life it would be Ben of Vanishing Point fame. He is famous. And if you don’t read his blog it’s your loss. And if you don’t look at his paintings and think “gee, I’d like to buy one of those” you are blind, or have no taste.

Amongst other things, Ben is an expert public transport commuter. So he offers the following guide as his mad skillz week submission. Thanks Ben.

Commuting is rubbish. If you like it, you are strange. I commute 3 hours a day. It’s rubbish. Lots of people all close together, being annoying. Morning breath in the morning. B.O. in the afternoon. Your day is bookended by badly smelling humans. You need to do what you can to minimise the pain. Seat positioning can help in this regard. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned through years of experiance, pain and toil.

1. Be prepared. The biggest mistake commuters make is in thinking the quest for a good seat begins when the train door opens. Novices. Did the Mona Lisa begin when Leonardo Da Vinci started putting paint to canvas, or when his uncle (Kevin Da Vinci) gave him that set of Derwents and a Star Wars pencil case for his 7th Birthday? For real. Before the train even rolls into the station, you must be alert. All your senses must be working hard. None of this lollygagging around in the crowd chatting with your buddies, or reading mX. You need to already be visualising the seat that will be yours. Believe it to be yours already.

2. Determine your platform position. It’s all about vantage point. This comes with practice, but you must learn to read the platform before you. Seperate from the pack. They will blindly congregate regardless, like antelope heedless of impending predators. But you must find the courage to be your own man and/or woman. Be the lion. Don’t stand at the bottom of the escalators in the middle of the platform. Too crowded. But don’t go right up to either end either. This is where the hunters like yourself will be working on their own game. Go three quarters of the way to either end. No man’s land. Your land.

3. Avoid the frail and needy. Look around you on the platform. Are you near some elderly people? A guy on crutches? A lady with a pram? Move away fast. Sure, you’ll beat them on to the train and get a sweet seat, but all for nothing. Your groundwork will have been in vain. You’ll soon feel bad and give up your seat for one of these kind, and spend the remainder of your journey suffering the consequences. Reading your novel standing up, trying not to fall over. Trying to avoid skin to skin with sweaty armpit guy. If you can’t find a blank bit of platfom, you need to find a bit that is made up of peers, ie, people you won’t feel bad about taking a seat from.

4. Hit the ground running. Or more accurately, approach the slowing train walking. Don’t wait for it to come to you. Walk beside it, looking for where the doors will stop. Sort of like a relay athlete running a bit before he gets the baton thing passed to him. Apply caution and acceptable level of politeness to avoid falling down The Gap, or sending someone else falling down The Gap. When the door opens, you need to be directly beside the door. Not in front, or you’ll be one of those annoying people who doesn’t let people get off before they get on. But certainly not way back behind the rest of the pack. Be right beside, so you can just slip in fast.

5. Choose swiftly. Okay, you are on the train. All having gone well you should be very near the front of the pack. Don’t dillydally pondering upstairs vs. downstairs, carriage vs. vestabule, 3 seat vs. 2 seat. Consider that before the train has even arrived. Every second counts. Find an opening and go. You are the lion. Be bold and go for the prize. It’s all paid off now. You are in position. Settle, and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Look how far you are from sweaty armpit guy. It feels good doesn’t it. That sweet coctail of comfort and victory. Be happy. Be proud. You have won.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.