Today I have broken a cardinal rule of the travelling voyeur. The fault of this lies with a sneaky little thing known as “Commuter Fatigue“.
Ohhhhh, Commuter Fatigue, a crafty enemy… a foe all-too familiar to the rodent race of beautiful ones.
The non-commuter is oft heard musing: “It must be lovely to have the chance to sleep on the way to work!“. To them I say “No!! Bad non-commuter!!“, for this crafty little bugger, born of late nights and long journeys, travelling in the guise of involuntary sleepiness, will attack – in one way or another – when you least expect it.
Now, this creeping epidemic isn’t just an enemy to Madame Voyeur, dear friends – no, no! Commuter fatigue (we’ll call it “CF“) affects us all!
CF’s cleverly timed attack may hit you only a short way into the trip – it is the moment where you feel your body go heavy and limp; your eyelids begin to close – all is good, warm, comfortable. The next thing you are aware of is being rudely awakened by the crackling “BING BONG!!!!” of the broken speaker in your carriage. As the distorted and disjointed voice of Mrs Nice Voice Electronic Lady begins her lovely tale of the places on the beautiful journey – “The next stop is…” – you find that you are no longer the perfect picture of peace in which you had arranged yourself – rather, your head has inexplicably fallen backwards and your mouth is gaping wide open – the look plastered on your face a telling story of the mixed shock and embarrassment that you are feeling. Was I snoring? You may never know, for it is a secret your fellow carriage dwellers will never part with.
You may sometimes be aware that you are falling victim to Commuter Fatigue. You prepare yourself:- cross your arms, snuggle down into your seat, brace yourself and allow yourself to be rocked to sleep by the arms of mother train. What you did not expect was… THE SHOCK!! For no good reason you wake in a state of high alert, the sound escaping from your mouth and into the silent carriage is something akin to “Bnnnyuh!!“. As your fellow inmates laugh quietly to themselves (some sharing a sympathetic “been there” smile), CF adds a notch to its tally and pats itself on the back.
You may fall foul of CF’s general malaise. This feeling is something you become party to only when you realise that you’ve been staring into space, mouth agape – giving your best stab at the ‘displaced refugee‘ look – and the person near the door, who has been the unfortunate object of your vacant gaze for the last five minutes, starts to look uncomfortable and gathers their belongings to move to the next carriage, snapping you back into reality. The shock of this realisation – along with your unfortunate slack jaw reeling itself back into your face like a recoiling tape measure – scares each of you as badly as the other. Your embarrassment is the creator of your new-found fascination in EVERYTHING ELSE. Whatever object you can first lay your eyes on demands your immediate attention – never before has the view outside the window been so glorious! (Damn it, you’re in a tunnel!!) But you… you victims of the moment… each of you, for your own reasons, WILL NOT look at each other again.
But this day, Beautiful Confidants (for this is who you are), my Commuter Fatigue struck in a place I never expected. I was not on the train, quietly viewing from my window seat – I was still at the station in the newspaper shop. Yawning my way to the counter, I paid, received my change with blurry-eyed thanks and turned around to leave. Seeing a familiar face, I smiled and said hello – breezy, light, like I know this suited man who is chewing gum. He looks confused. “Should I know this person?“, he wonders.
I have taken only a few steps from the shop when the realisation dawns on me and a solitary sound — “Nyughhh!!” — escapes my horrified face. GUM!!! I have interacted with one of the Beautiful Train Freaks!!!
For the love of all that’s holy… what was the first lesson I learned in Voyeur class at Ninja Commuter School? Never… blow… your… cover!!!
The golden rule of the travelling voyeur is to NEVER forget the basic fact that… I DO NOT KNOW YOU – I MERELY SEE YOU.
So, good people, it is here that I find myself. What will the days ahead bring? Will this random specimen of travelling man from this day forth be known as “Gum Chewing Nipples Guy who Smiles at and” … god forbid… “TALKS to me” ??!
Only time – and the beautiful onwards journey – will tell…