Photo credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-510408/
Morning rush hour train journeys have become somewhat unbearable. There’s never enough carriages to provide all commuters with a seat. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself a seat, you will often be forced to sit next to a stranger. Squashed up against the wall, with barely any leg room, having to look continuously down at your phone or across out of the window as you fear making eye contact with unfamiliar faces. As we stepped on to the train, we were greeted with a rush of cold air, the tip of my nose, frost bitten.
The smell of morning coffee and cigarette smoke filled up the carriages as all commuters bustled to claim their seats. As the train doors closed behind us, they let out a piercing cry, perhaps a sign of how outdated the carriages were. As the train accelerated up the tracks, the doors to the toilets and other carriages were continuously flinging open and closed, the sharp loud bangs were causing anxiety amongst commuters who were still transitioning from the hypnagogic state.
As the train stopped at more and more platforms to pick up extra commuters, the sounds on the train started to become a little more enhanced, there were multiple levels of noise in terms of communication amongst passengers, from the two older ladies in the corner whispering and looking up at the commuters that were forced to stand, perhaps because they were feeling a little claustrophobic, to the younger women gossiping and letting out almost witch cackle cries, the type of cries I am sure will forever be engrained in my brain. I could empathise with the two older women, I had somewhat become claustrophobic, especially as a stranger proceeded to sit next to me.
There was a prominent smell of cigarette smoke and alcohol coming from him, he smelt like an old pub, the smell had drowned out any of the pleasant smells that may have been present in the air at that time. My chest had become tight as I attempted to hold my breath so as I didn’t inhale any of the unpleasantness. My anxiety had heightened, the smell of alcohol in the morning is almost alien to me, I tried to adjust myself to face away from this stranger, as every second I spent sitting next to him made me feel even more uneasy. All I could see of his face, was a blurry image from the corner of my eye. As I glanced down at the floor, I looked at his hands, they were dry, in between his finger nails there appeared to be dirt, he had a gold ring on each hand. To try and take my mind off him, I glanced around the train hoping to find another point of focus. But as I looked up, I saw that the train was pulling into the platform.
My entire body had found itself finally entering a state of relaxation. The man that had made me feel uneasy for most of my journey had got up out of his seat and proceeded to walk towards the exit, I followed behind. As soon as I stepped from the train, I inhaled sharply. I have never appreciated the inhalation of fresh air before, as I do right now.