I don’t usually yell at commuters, but…
This guy today caused me to raise my voice. I was on my way to the city this morning, and because a public holiday weekend just passed, many commuters were lining up to buy new tickets for the week. It is well known that on Monday mornings (or in this case, Tuesday, and the day after a weekend), lines at the ticket machines can be criminally long. Usually about twenty to thirty people in length, sometimes worse, especially if there is only one machine.
Thankfully my hometown has four. One for paying by card only, one for paying by coins only (and only to major stations), and two for paying by either cash or card. Alternatively, you can walk up to one of the kiosks and purchase a ticket from one of the train station employees.
As I was lining up behind the card-only machine (I only had a few coins on me), a lady stood behind me in line. After a brief minute she asked me if the machine I was lining up for was card-only. I let her know that it was, and, reassured, she continued to speak to someone over her mobile phone.
A businessman in front of me overheard our small conversation, and asked us if the machine only accepted cards. I said yes, and, saying “Oh” quietly, under his breath, moved to the end of another line. He obviously preferred to pay by cash.
After about ten or fifteen minutes waiting in line, the man in front of me (as in, the man who was standing in front of me after the businessman left) walked off. I continued to check the train timetables on my phone and respond to some text messages, and kept my head down as I took a few steps forward to stand behind the young girl who was now in front of me.
After what seemed like another ten minutes (though it was realistically probably five), a man, seemingly putting something in his backpack, said to me, “Excuse me, I was here, this is my spot.”
I said, “No?”
He said, “Yes, I just left to check the machine and now I am coming back to stand in my spot.”
“No, you left. This is not your spot.”
He proceeded to argue with me and force himself between me and the girl in front of me.
“I was just checking the machine and I came back, I was here before,” he said angrily.
“You could have told me you were just going to check the machine, before you left,” I said, as calmly as possible. “Then I would have let you come right ba—”
“This is my spot!”
Well, okay, being nice was not going to cut it. Honestly, realistically, when someone asks you something as simple as minding their spot in line, if they are checking something, going to read a sign, going to throw something in the bin, you usually just nod and say yes, because it is the polite thing to do. That is, if they asked politely. And come on, Sydneysiders are generally friendly people. Maybe you would think twice before trusting a stranger to mind your bag, but minding your spot while you duck off, and not for a very long time? Most people would happily oblige, because it would be awfully rude to say no.
The man continued, “I don’t need to tell you I am going to check the machine.”
Well, the thing is, he could have asked anyone in line to confirm, as well, but clearly he had trouble communicating to anybody.
I raised my voice and shouted, “Then you don’t need to push back in line. Too bad!”
There was, admittedly, a bit of a struggle as I spoke, loudly, but firmly, and far from being furious, really. You can speak loudly and, yes, cause a stir the same way I did… but you know, still be all cool about it.
He tried to push in behind me and asked the lady behind me if he could go in front of her. She laughed lightly and said, “No, you gotta go to the end of the line. I have been waiting here. We all have.”
“But I was here!”
“You lost your spot, too bad.”
Other commuters agreed in unison and I heard a few mumbles of agreement.
Considering the last time I shouted amongst commuters, to defend an innocent person, nobody was on my side… I count this one as a win.
Georgie: 1. Idiot Commuters: 0.
Thumbnail image from Sydney Morning Herald.