Friday, January 13, 2012

The Unwritten Rules: A Code of Conduct for Wellington Commuters

Train Etiquette

1. Fill up seats from the outside in. Do not take an aisle seat next to another passenger unless there are NO OTHER OPTIONS! Remember, commuters are like charged particles. They repel each other to the greatest possible distance.

2. If all available non-adjacent seats are filled, there are a variety of options available to you, depending on your confidence and level of commuter experience;
a. You want to play it safe: Sit next to the sweet old lady doing the crossword.
b. You're feeling good: Sit next the hot young corporate dude texting on his i-phone.
c. You just want to be comfortable: Sit next to the smallest person, taking up the least amount of seat room (NB: This is often the same person as a. )
d. You're 'too cool': Stand in the aisle, holding the handrail and staring off into space as if you're thinking deep and meaningful things (which of course you are). Alternatively, this look can be achieved by easing into an available seat with your back toward the person next to you, exuding an 'I'm only sitting by you because I really have to' air.

3. It is not OK to share personal information directly with other passengers. Do not make eye contact, do not engage. If, however, you are travelling with a friend or talking on the phone, it is perfectly acceptable to discuss your partner, your dinner, your workmates and your in-laws with reckless abandon and excessive volume. In addition to this, if you are between the ages of 14 and 21, you may also wish to include references to scandalous Facebook anecdotes, your sexy science teacher, and what happened in the weekend. Like OMG...

4. Please remember, the conductor is not your friend. Do not make small talk, do not greet them loudly. Hand over your ticket, and if necessary, a small 'thank you' is permissible.

5. When you need to get past another passenger in order to disembark, you let them know this using non-verbal communication. This is usually done by clearly gathering all books and jackets together as the train slows down to approach the station. Only if this method fails may you resort to a quick 'Excuse me, this is my stop.'

6. The train is not your workplace, the pub, or your lounge at home. It is a means to your destination and must be treated as such. While these rules are unwritten (except here) they are widely accepted and those who show blatant disregard for the expectations outlined above will be subject to disapproving looks, clucking tongues, rolling eyes and shaking heads.

7. Thank you for travelling with Tranz Metro. Please sit back, relax (?) and enjoy your trip. We hope you will travel with us again.