Public Transport.

As someone who didn’t learn to drive until I was 31, public transport is no great shock to my system. I’ve been using it a lot lately. I don’t have to put up with bullshit traffic and I can read my book or mess around with my phone in relative peace. The other guilty pleasure of public transport is the people watching. Nose pickers, people who are elbow-deep in their own ears, men who are constantly rearranging their junk- you name it, I’ve seen it. It amazes me what people will do on public transport. They are crammed in with a bunch of other people yet they behave as if they are invisible.

 public transport

The Sleeper.

The Sleeper is on board almost every train in the early hours. Often, there are several in each train carriage. They might wrap a scarf or generous hood around their faces before they set an alarm on their phones and doze off. I should be pleased that they’ve figured out a way to maximise their sleep but honestly, they freak me out a little. Sometimes, they slowly drift over to one side and before you know it, a total random is snoring gently into your ear. I never know what to do. I don’t want to rudely awaken anybody but if someone I don’t know is drooling on my shoulder, what choice do I have? The other reason they freak me out is that I can’t always tell if they’re breathing. I have this mental image of a newspaper article about how a dead man rode a Sydney train for days because commuters thought he was sleeping. So now I find myself carefully watching the chests of sleeping strangers to make sure they’re rising and falling. It’s kind of stressful, actually!

asleep on public transport


The Long Phone Call.

Last week, I was on the train when a friend called my mobile to discuss a personal issue. I spoke in coded terms and she, understanding that I was on a peak hour train, kept it short.

Other people, however, are not so considerate. Having spent half hour bus trips listening to someone’s detailed explanation of their marital problems made me hyper-aware of not inflicting that on strangers. No one wants to spend their commute listening to the gory (or boring) details of someone else’s life. It can be annoying and it’s often uncomfortable. Some of us just want to chill out on the ride to or from work. There is social media, emails to catch up on, books to read, windows to gaze out of while lost in thought and sleeping people to monitor for signs of life. All of these things can be unpleasantly compromised by an inconsiderate chatterer who insists on airing their intimacies in confined spaces that we can’t readily escape from.

The Small Talker.

Some people are perfectly happy to have a little chat on the bus or train. Some people are less so. You can usually figure it out by subtle clues offered by their body language. Are they wearing headphones? They don’t want to talk to you. Is their entire face swathed in a scarf or hidden by a hood as they sleep? They don’t want to talk to you. Are they gazing determinedly at their phone, out the window, into a book, a newspaper or at a laptop? They don’t want to talk to you. Have the answered all of your attempts at conversation with either non-verbal gestures or monosyllabic responses? Sorry, they do not want to talk to you. That’s okay. Let people have their space and quiet time!

smalltalk public transport

The Music Fan.

Who doesn’t love music? And how great is public transport for chilling out with your favourite tunes on? Pop your headphones in and away you go! Note that first little instruction, there. pop your damn headphones in. You might think Nickelback is the most phenomenal band that ever graced a recording studio. We could have a lively debate about whether or not that noise even qualifies as music, but I’m happy to live and let live. That said, have the same consideration.


And they aren’t always teens! Source.

Do not play your music out loud, using your phone speaker or any other portable speaker thingy. You are in a confined space with people who are trying to sleep or have a phone conversation, damn it! Blasting people with music, even if you think it’s the best and they will love it, is the act of an arrogant douchecanoe who hasn’t even got the most basic sense of consideration for others.

The Manspreader.

Widely documented, this is the phenomenon of the bloke who sits with his legs so far apart that he takes up more than one seat. The Manspreader  is the tabby cat of public transport animals. They are everywhere. They aren’t just spreading onto the only vacant seat in the train carriage, they are also plopping themselves down in the seat next to you and gradually squishing their leg into yours in a silent battle for domination of the space. I know men might feel more comfortable with a little more space between their legs to accommodate certain things, but there is no way they need to do the splits on public transport to keep their bits in relative comfort.

manspread public transport

Apparently, the female equivalent is the woman who piles shopping on the seat next to her to prevent anyone else using it. From my own experience, I’ve never had this issue. Women have happily shifted bags and let me sit down. Maybe it’s just a tactic to put off potential manspreaders?

The Eater.

Sometimes, I bring breakfast on to the train with me. What qualifies as train breakfast is coffee in a thermal travel mug. No mess, no rubbish, no obnoxious noises or smells that will bother anyone else.

Have you ever been in the same carriage as someone who has decided that a peak hour train ride is an excellent time for a curried egg sandwich? Ever sat near someone who is crunching their way through a pile of chips or crackers? Misophonia is a real thing. It sends sufferers into fits of anxiety, rage, terror and panic when they hear someone chewing. Even if you aren’t living with misophonia, listening to someone munch or being forced to smell food is not cool. It’s an attack on the senses that we could all do without, whether it’s the start of our day or the end!

The Infectious Commuter.


Unless public transport is the only option you have to get to medical assistance, I beg you, stay home. I have been sneezed on, coughed on, spluttered over and worse. I have never enjoyed it. It has never lead to anything pleasant. No one wants what you have. Keep it to yourself.

#IBOT @ Capturing Life.


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  • I still can’t drive, (I like to think of myself as environmentally) so I can totally relate to these. The man spreader and the music fan are my least favourite of all passengers and that music fan meme is pure gold. Think I need to get me a marker pen next time I’m on the train!

  • I really hate man spreaders and eaters. Another category is the commuters with bad B.O. Standing next to them in a peak hour train when they have their arm raised holding on is not pleasant!

  • Oh the joys!!! The manspreader & the private conversations are the worst. It’s definitely the best way to get into the city though.

  • I’ve been riding the rails to work/school since I was 11 years old. Yes to all of these!

    And I’d add long business phone calls too. When I’ve left work, I want to be away from work, not have to listen to your detailed negotiations that should probably be confidential anyway.

  • LOL. I haven’t had to ride public transport for … well … have I ever? I guess growing up in a country town I rode the school bus and then being in the ACT it was always car friendly in my work days. Now that I work from home, I really don’t travel at peak time at all. Although I have been on public transport in NYC (as a tourist) and in Sydney on mumager duties from time to time, so can still relate to your post. Glad I don’t deal with it daily to be honest …

  • The man spreader is my personal nemesis. I can’t. stand. it. I like to spread my own legs just as wide and stare them down. x

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    The sneezer is the worst. It makes me sick to my stomach (and then sometimes actually makes me sick to my stomach)

  • Helen King

    My favourite – if you can call it that – is the loud and constant sniffer. Bonus when you can hear what s/he is sniffing back up! Oh – and the people who yell to each other from one end of the carriage to the other (don’t mind us – as we are balancing, holding onto poles or overhead handholds because no seats left). Must start cycling to work!

  • jess

    Haha, a big yes to seeing all of these on the train to work! I have a pet peeve for people who have personal phone calls in a loud voice on the train.

  • I did the public transport thing when I lived near the ferry and caught buses then too. But I am talking the 1960s!! We’d always lived where public transport is limited…i.e. Sydney’s north west (even tho they are building the famous rail link there now) and I have almost always used my car. I would prefer to be by myself, in control (ha!) at all times. I understand that many people do use public transport and I admire that but I am finding I cannot. I did take my grandkids on public transport for the experience of the trains and buses. Mind you, I would still do the Ferry thing if I could as I find it very calming!!

  • Oh god yes! People playing music on the train through their phone with no thought of others drives me insane! And the small talker. Grr! I like to read and go on my phone. I have also been known to hide if I see someone I know because I just want to be left alone. I look forward to that quiet time all day!

  • I am thinking I am glad not to have to regularly use public transport. This people would piss me off! I would find it difficult not to tell them so. What the hell is it with loud music?? I had to tell a 40+ year old “lady” on the beach the other day, my children didn’t appreciate her loud rap sweary shit, ON THE BEACH!! Drives me insane!!

  • Living in a country area, the only public transport I use in when I’m visiting the city. But even in my limited experience I can say I have see all of these! Although I don’t mind the phone talker. My writerly brain kicks in and soaks it all up for research and story potential!

  • Lol. The manspreader- is there any greater affliction to our time? Can’t stand it!!!!

  • Yes, yes, yessity yes to all of these. THE OPEN-MOUTHED CHEWERS OF THE WORLD. Gah.

  • The good thing re Brisbane public transport is that you’re not allowed to eat on trains / buses, so no messy food or nice smells!

    I hate the loud phone talker or person doing it in person with their friend. Or the PDA couple… (Thankfully post seachange I don’t have to worry about public transport any more!)

  • The ‘manspreader’!! Oh my gosh. I used to catch public transport into the city every day when I did my business college Diploma. I reckon I saw all of these on a public bus.

  • Ohhh man the small talker.
    No. Just no.

  • It’s been awhile since I’ve caught public transport living in the country and all. Perth trains are always entertaining but otherwise I used it heaps when I lived in London. I once fell asleep on my way to Cambridge Markets and was in a hell of a state not knowing where I was. Haha! On a double decker bus I once watched a bus driver eat an apple and talk on his mobile while turning around a big ass roundabout – niiiiice!! This was well before we filmed everything on our phones of course otherwise he would of made the news I’m sure!!! Loved this Amy #teamIBOT

  • Loved this. Fellow late driver here! What about the person gripping their gocard for dear life in fear they will forget to touch off. Always me.

  • Once again, your gif game is strong Amy! The loud talking, long phone call does my head in every time.

  • Julie Jones

    Yes, I’ve seen and experienced them all. The worst was the eater. I’ve never seen such a revolting display eating KFC before. I wanted to scream at his adoring girlfriend, “Get out now! It can only get worse!” I restrained myself or I’d have been a whole other kind of public transport passenger for you to write about.

  • Oh oh oh! I saw an EPIC man-spread yesterday on the bus! He was ACROSS the isle. The whole way. I had to step over his foot to get off the bus. Because he didn’t actually move aside. It was incredible. High fives to that guy. His junk must be enormous.

  • How about the personal groomer? Like the woman sitting next to me filing her nails covering herself and partly me with nail dust then simply brushing it off as she stood up. I responded like any normal person would, huffing, tutting and Snapchatting pictures to my friend. Or the young lad who got on a tram opposite me, took out a cotton tip, inserted into his ear, dug around then inspected the result. And don’t even get me started on hair brushing!

  • Gilly

    This makes me miss the train sooo much… NOT!

  • Ah, it takes me back…. I was a tram commuter in my teens, and I was all about standing up without holding on to anything when the tram was stopping. I had such good balance. Needless to say, I was a very cool kid.

  • Urrrghhhh There is a special place in hell for the Long Phone Call people.

  • Lauren Threadgate

    The eater – it’s me! I’m always eating – usually just a packet of chips from the vending machine so no overly obnoxious smells, apologies for the noise though!

  • Manspreaders do my head in!! You’re also forgetting the category of women who finish getting ready and doing their make up on the bus!

  • I hate the “Eater”, especially if you are in the “quiet” carriage and they are munching on a packet of chips or an apple! Hate that!

  • What the shit is it with people who don’t use their headphones to listen to music on public transport? Seriously, what goes through their minds? “I have the absolute best taste in music, no one on this bus or in this carriage will protest to me blasting this epic gangsta rap. In fact, I’m doing them a service.” Hate those people.