Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | May 17, 2006

Commuting for Dummies

During the course of my days, I often find myself asking the same questions over and over again. So befuddled am I by people’s habits and actions, that all I can do is ask why? Driven to the point of frustration (usually a short drive for me), I’ve decided that the time has come to share just a few of my Frequently Asked Questions, in no particular order. Many of them have to do with train/train station behavior, as this is when I tend to do most of my observing.

  1. Why do people feel that it’s acceptable to listen to every ringtone on their cell phones while sitting on a packed train? – It’s bad enough having to listen to cell phones that are actually ringing all the time because someone is calling, let alone having to put up with the fool who thinks that we all want to hear “Take on Me” in the often-indistinguishable language of “ringtonese”. Don’t be surprised when someone rips your cell phone from your hand and throws it out the train window into a field somewhere, and don’t be surprised if that person is me.
  2. And speaking of cell phones, don’t people care that they are sharing personal details with the entire train carriage/bus/service taxi/etc.? – Frankly, I do not want to know about your evening plans. I do not care about what Lilach said to Tomer, nor do I need to know how Tomer responded. I’m not interested in what happened at your workplace, and I can certainly do without knowing that you are having trouble with sewage pipes and that it’s causing your house to smell like a cesspool. Oh, and while I don’t have a problem to discuss medical issues, I really don’t need to hear about yours. Thanks for sharing, but no thanks.
  3. Good for you for choosing to take the stairs instead of the escalator, but is it really necessary for you to walk in the middle of the stairs so that no one can get by, studying your cell phone intently while you creep along, keeping those of us with more important things to do from reaching our destinations? – Think of the stairs and escalators like a highway. Choose one lane and stick to it. If you’re gonna go slow, please stay in the right lane, and let those of us who are clearly more aware of the outside world than you are get to the top or bottom before it’s time to turn around and head in the other direction.
  4. Those of you who suddenly stop in place while walking in a crowded area – why? – Are you not aware of the fact that people are all around you, all trying to move forward? Do you not realize that not only will people crash into you, but also into each other as they try to move around you. Seriously, what’s it like in your world, where only you exist?
  5. And for those of you who like to stop in place, is it really necessary to do it as soon as you step off the train? – Do you not realize that you’re causing a traffic jam for those of us still trying to get off? Think, people, think!
  6. You’re going through a turnstile – not one of those that you’ve got to pop your train ticket into in order to enter or exit, but those big ones that you go through when entering or leaving the station itself, that usually only turn in one direction and have additional metal slats that keep you from circling all the way around. You know, the ones you’d secretly like to climb up and swing through like a kid if no one was watching. There are people behind you, entering each little cubicle area so that they, too, may enter or exit the station. We’re all walking through at the same pace. Why do grab one of the bars to stop the turnstile so that you can step out? Are you an idiot? – Seriously, do you not realize that by stopping this miracle of efficiency that you are causing three other people to get smacked from top to bottom with metal bars? Oh, and to the ultra-Orthodox guy who actually joined me in that very small space, what the hell was going through your mind, and how did you manage to not break purity laws by not accidentally touching some part of my body? Neat trick!
  7. Those of you waiting to get on the train. Do you really think you’re going to get to your destination more quickly if you push your way on while people are still trying to get off? Do you think you’ll lose your edge if you step aside so that those attempting to step down can actually get off the train? – As long as you don’t let me get off the train, I’m not letting you get on. I’ll go to the next stop if I have to, just to complete that mission and see you suffer, you aggressive little shit. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m actually crazier than you are, and I’ll bet my fuse is shorter. Don’t try me, buddy. Inconveniencing myself just to put you in your place would make my day.

And people say train travel is boring…

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Responses

  1. “Think of the stairs and escalators like a highway. Choose one lane and stick to it.”

    The trouble is, they do. Since when have drivers here chosen one lane and stuck to it?

  2. Ha. The stopping the turnstile thing is definitely an Israeli trick.

  3. I also get angry at the schmucks who try to enter an elevator while the people inside are trying to get out. I usually block them and say kind of loudly, in an annoyed tone, “Efshar latset?” Usually they’re shamed into stepping back. Usually.

  4. Oh my those last two, especially the last had me in stitches. The first couple had me searching shamefacedly for a rock to climb under. Ya know, ya get bored, no one is calling (so you can discuss all your personal stuff) and choosing a new ringtone is, well, fun. When bored. And on a train. And uh, yeah.

  5. savtadotty: Very true. I suppose I was referring to those people who choose to walk straight up the center, and not necessarily those who “switch lanes”.

    lisoosh: And annoying it is! It’s up there with those people who are clearly heading towards one turnstile, then switch to a different one at the very last second, squeezing in front of others who were already there.

    rr: That works for you? The train people must be nastier. They tend to respond with rude comments when faced with such questions.

    Yael k: Hey, I also talk on the phone on the train! My problem is with those people who seem to forget that they’ve got a captive audience around them, and speak at unacceptable volume levels. Ringtones are fun, but only to the person playing with them. 🙂

  6. hehe..that’s some “venting” post 🙂
    I hate it when they start playing with the ringtones, it drives me nuts “yes yes this one is perfect YOU CAN STOP NOW!”.

  7. One day same may happen to your own , unless you prove to me this not true.You and all your readers we have to do something to stop this ugly war machine IDF
    http://www.dci-pal.org/english/display.cfm?DocId=486&CategoryId=1
    May 02, 2006

    Five-year old boy detained by Israeli forces

    Motaz and his father Samer

    In the early afternoon of 17 April, 33-year old Samer Qabha was sitting with his five-year old son, Motaz, in his lap, talking to his neighbour in front of his house in the northern West Bank village of Tura al-Gharbiya. As the men chatted, they noticed an Israeli military Hummer jeep passing several times up and down along the street in front of them. Samer and his neighbour paid little attention to the vehicle – the sight of the Israeli army in town is nothing new. Israeli forces often enter Tura al-Gharbiya and surrounding villages ostensibly to patrol the Separation Wall which snakes along the western edge of Tura al-Gharbiya, cutting the village off from its land and from the 9,000 residents of neighbouring hamlets in the Barta’a Ash Sharqiya enclave.

    On around the fifth time of passing, the Hummer stopped and three soldiers got down and started walking towards Samer. Pointing at Motaz, the soldiers asked if the boy was Samer’s son and said he’d been throwing stones at the jeep. As Samer started to protest, pointing out that his son was only five years old, other soldiers appeared from an olive grove beside the house. As they walked up to Samer and Motaz, one soldier told the others standing there “That boy was throwing stones”.

    To the horror of Samer and his neighbour, the soldiers announced that they were going to arrest Motaz. Samer implored them to leave his child alone, but one of the soldiers bent down and tried to pull the by now terrified child out of his father’s arms. For almost half an hour, Samer argued with the soldiers that Motaz was only a child and that they couldn’t arrest him. However, when it became clear to him that the soldiers were not going to yield, Samer told them that if they were going to detain his child, they would have to take him too.

    The soldier in charge made a call in which, Samer assumes, he sought permission to bring the father along with the son. The soldiers then dragged Motaz from his father, shouting at the boy who started screaming and begging his father to help him. Samer tried to hold onto and protect Motaz, but his efforts only angered the soldiers further. They turned and beat Samer, separating him from Motaz whom they slapped and yelled at. The soldiers bound Samer’s hands and blindfolded him before pushing him into the jeep, shoving Motaz in after him.

    Father and son were transferred to the nearby ‘Shakeed’ military base and placed in a downstairs room to await the arrival of an officer. After about half an hour, Motaz, who was shaking with fear, told his father that he wanted a drink. Samer asked a soldier to bring a glass of water, but when it came, almost an hour later, the water was so hot they had to leave it to cool before the boy was able to drink. A while later, Motaz said he needed to go to the bathroom. The soldiers initially refused to let Motaz out of the cell, but after a long and heated argument they finally relented and let Samer, with his hands tied, walk out of the room to the toilet, with Motaz clutching his leg.

    Around 8.30pm, an officer came and told Samer that Motaz had been throwing stones at soldiers. Samer demanded that the officer show some proof, so the officer called another soldier over who, indicating at Motaz, promptly told Samer and the officer “This boy throws stones”. The officer made a phone call and told Samer that he would be taken with his son to Salem detention centre north of Jenin, where Samer would be made to pay a fine of NIS 2,000 ($445). Again, Samer protested, arguing that he should not be made to pay and that his son was merely a child. “Israel does not separate between children and adults,” the officer told Samer. “All Palestinians are terrorists!”

    The officer left the room and, on returning told Samer that he and Motaz could leave now. He told Samer to tell all the people of his village that they were to stop throwing stones at the Israeli forces as they patrolled the streets. “This is the last time we’ll warn you,” he said.

    At around 9.30pm, six and a half hours after the soldiers had first approached them outside the house, Samer and Motaz were released from military custody. They were let out of the gates of Shakeed camp onto an empty road, and told to go home. However, it was not until 10.30pm, after a terrifying hour’s walk along a pitch-black road at risk of attack from Jewish settlers or from being apprehended again by Israeli forces, that Samer and Motaz finally reached the relative safety of their home back in Tura al-Gharbiya.

    Based on the testimony of Samer Saleh Qabha

  8. laila: You could add it to your “a bit about me” entry on your blog under things that make you crazy! 🙂

    a father: Sorry to say, as far as I know, my readers and don’t really have the power to influence the IDF. As interesting as this article is, it is completely unrelated to the entry that I posted here, and I would greatly appreciate if we could try to keep things on-topic. I’d also appreciate if people didn’t post articles in my comments section in general, so thanks in advance for sticking to the guidelines.

  9. You seem to get quite a few visitors who leave political comments unrelated to the day’s topic. Why don’t you wipe these?

  10. In the UK we have a programe called grumpy old women, where poepl my age (55) and aboe (ish) get paid good cash money for saying things like that. Sadly they were all famous before, so I don’t have a chance, but it makes me realise that these things are universal stupidities not local ones

  11. Miki: I’ve considered it, but I suppose I’ve more or less decided that unless a comment is absolutely offensive, I’m going to leave it here as part of the record. I have deleted comments that I felt warranted being removed, but the one left here doesn’t qualify. I’m not offended by its content, only annoyed because it’s completely unrelated to my original post and disturbs the rhythm of the comments section(and I also happen to think that posting entire articles is out of line). I don’t want these instances to detract from the blog itself, nor do I want to be dragged into senseless debates about censorship or politics, so I do my best to deal with each situation that arises as respectfully and as quietly as possible, and it usually seems to work.

    Christine: Yep! I’ve learned that stupidity is definitely a universal trait (or perhaps a global problem – take your pick!).

  12. Just recently been to Israel and your no. 2 is so crazily true. But I think it is a bit of an Israeli phaenomenon. It is just insane what people like to discuss in public. The worst is when the Sherut drivers are talking to their friends in ALL details about things like cheating on their wifes etc. That was just one insane ride…. And what also hit me was how much people talk on the phone let aside the topics. But the phones are constantly ringing everywhere, anytime. In other countries people are still ashamed to talk in public and try to keep it down, not so in Israel….. but hey, not living there anymore and just visiting, it actually was quite funny to watch for a week. You hear some really funny stories 😀

  13. the ultra-Orthodox guy who actually joined [you] in that very small space was probably trying to pick your pocket. 🙂

    Related to #3: People who stand on the left side of the escalator, when every second step is clearly marked “Links gehen rechts stehen” i.e. stand on the right. Murder after torture is too good for them.

  14. Oh,you know, you got the point. For example, people who sit next to me in the cab, all the time discuss about politics, choose a new Ringtone and something like them (hearing music with high volume!). That really drives me crazy, particularly after a day full of stresses .
    By the way, you can find a lot of political forums about Iran nuclear disputes when you took a bus or underground in Tehran!


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