Don’t get me wrong, the tram system in Manchester is a genuine godsend for us non drivers. However, it can also be a whole new level of crazy!
The five most annoying aspects of public transport commuting in Manchester
A recent survey by Regus, the world’s largest workplace provider, has show that the cost of commuting has risen dismally in recent years with a third of workers now spending an average of 5% of their wages on commuting. This is due to a significant rise in both the cost of petrol and the cost of train fares. Thats a pretty big proportion of your wage which you probably don’t want to work out in real figures as it symbolizes that holiday that you will not be going on, or that two bedroom flat deposit that you are never going to put down. It is insane how much time, energy and money we spend on commuting. It is bizarre the extent to which disruptions, traffic jams and irritating fellow travellers shape our grumpy small talk with our colleagues.
Every Commuters experience is somewhat different, but also in many ways are very much alike . At the age of 24 I still can’t drive and to be honest its gotten to the stage where I doubt that I will ever find the time or inclination to learn. So its more than likely that I have going to spend a good part of the rest of my working life riding buses, trams and trains like a disgruntled 1980s era Steve Martin in a never ending rerun of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I would try and add up exactly how many hours on public transport that I am fated to spend, but I am worried that the total number of hours may depress me somewhat. Commuting can be such a bleary, grim wedge of time. Sometimes I can’t recall what happened during my morning journey at all because it is so similar to every other morning. However, I like to think that I’ve picked up a few life lessons along the way that I will now share with you.
Plenty has been said about commuting in London but not enough has been said about the perils and frustrations of commuting on the Manchester tramline. I have therefore compiled a list, from my own experiences, of the five most annoying aspects of commuting in Manchester:
- Number one is that awful time between around 5.15pm and 6.15pm where it’s as if the whole world are trying to cram themselves on the Bury tram at Market Street. People will lose all sense of spatial awareness during this time and even if they are faced with a solid wall of commuter flesh, they will still try and squish themselves into nooks and crannies more suited to lithe and wriggly squirrels. You wont be able to get a good grip on the hand pole as it will be completely covered in rain numbed human fingers. However, the sheer compression of bodies will mean that you won’t fall over at least. I think that this mad rush is testament as to how desperately people want to get home after a hard days work as quickly as possible, even if it means facing discomfort and mayhem. The thought of your slippers waiting at the front door for you carry you home, as if on little dog chewed clouds.
- Number two is that selfish little weasel who grabs themselves a sweet window seat and then plonks their bag, with a territorial viciousness, on the aisle seat. This type of person is seemingly blissfully oblivious to the amount of people who are struggling to stand, leaning against grubby walls or strangers in a bid not to tumble domino style. I can weirdly empathise with the bag seat Nazi. I like my own space. Moreover, I have the kind of job that requires me to carry a huge dorky rucksack complete with laptop and a dozen notebooks at all times that in all fairness should get a tram ticket of its own. Really, I get it. But first rule of Manchester commuting is that we are all in this together and these cats just aren’t playing by the rules. Look, if you are one of these people then sort yourself out. We are all uptight shoe mumbling Brits after all, everybody is too polite and awkward to stand up to you. But if you try that sort of shit during an evening journey when all the loud and lairy Shaun Ryder types begin to emerge, then god help you my friend.
- Number three is that person who has no concept of volume control when it comes to listening to music. I have a theory that the shitter the music is, the louder the commuter will play it. This theory is backed up by substantial first hand research during my years of commuting back and forth to Manchester. For instance, I once sat next to a thirty odd year old goth who played the same Evanescence song over and over again from Victoria to Prestwich. I must confess that I have been guilty of this one on a couple of occasions. I once bought a pair of cheap earphones and wasn’t aware of their biblical flood like sound leakage until after a week of treating my fellow commuters to my “Motown Morning” Spotify playlist. You are very welcome 7am acquaintances!
- Number four is the surprising amount of people who feel that optimum commuter time is also the perfect time for them to conduct very loud and very personal mobile phone conversations. The sort of conversations that make their fellow Commuters twitch with embarrassment and look for a window crack to squirm out of. You can always tell this sort. They enter the tram and look around theatrically at their captured audience before whipping on their iphone and stabbing at numbers excitedly. A couple of weeks ago, I had one such woman whose phone “conversation” was in fact a bizarre list of finances which included the price of her house, her car, her holiday and even her yearly pay. All through the conversation, her little eyes darted around the tram looking desperately from face to face; looking for some sense of fascination or perhaps some applause, who knows. If you are one of these people then it is time to stop. I am sorry to tell you that this forced insight into your life doesn’t intrigue or titillate me. In fact, it only makes me consider the banality and outright pointlessness of all human existence. Please, please stop you are the absolute worst.
- Number four is those shameless people who eat disgustingly right in your face first thing in the morning. “Oh its okay dear, I won’t have my Kellog’s this morning; I’ll stop of at Maccy Ds and grab myself an egg McMuffin that I will eat loudly and breathe all over everyone in the confined space of the Altrincham tram”. No. Don’t let this be you. Really, I do understand the time constraints that the tiny slither of pre work morning affords you. Also, please don’t skip Brekkie and piss of all your colleagues with your whiny stomach grumbling. However, there are ways around this and please just consider the bleary and bedsick stranger hunched against the tram window as you merrily dribble your yoghurt all over them.