On the show last week I talked to behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings off the telly about why commuting by train can stress you out.
She told me that it’s because we try and create personal space in a public environment, which inevitably makes us selfish.
Jo had survey results of the most annoying train habits. The problem is we’re all pretty much as bad as everyone else! More than a quarter of us admit to annoying fellow passengers; people playing their music or ringtones too loudly not surprisingly rates highly.
At least nowadays we can be annoyed by an actual song and not the clicky, bleepy ringtone versions of 10 years ago. Jo’s advice is to try and find entertainment where you can. If you can hear tinny ‘tssst! tssst! tssst!’ beats, have a game of ‘What’s that song?’
Confused about whose phone is ringing, because we all have the same classic phone ringtone? Have fun with it! Set your phone ringing in your pocket, then look around suspiciously at everyone else until they think it’s theirs. Have a sweepstake on how many people you can convince to get their phone out. Good times.
Jo says just by getting your phone out you can make others do the same. It’s because we use them as comforters and there is a Mexican wave effect. Try it yourself.
Someone getting stuck into a big stinky sarnie? A nice game of ‘What’s your filling?’ will wile away a couple of stops.
The number one commuting annoyance is new passengers forcing themselves onto a train before allowing passengers to get off. Amazing when you consider what they’re rushing into – a stuffy metal tube full of people acting like sheep, eating pungent tuna, egg and garlic baguettes, listening to drum ‘n’ bass performed on the world’s tinniest sound system – all while yelling down the phone to their wives about why they’re going to be late and why Toby in the office is an “absolute nightmare!”
I have a top tip for creating some personal space. Lots of people try and keep the hordes at bay by putting bags on the seats next to them.
It’s worth a try but I have a much more effective way of keeping the next seat free. When someone approaches, with hopes of sitting down, make eyes at them in a come hither style and pat the seat invitingly. They’ll stand all the way to their stop. In a different carriage. Or train if possible.