10 Things I Learned from Commuting


I commute a lot. As a commuter, you end up sharing a small moving space with a group of strangers for a good part of your day. And it can be the most boring experience of your life outside of watching paint dry at a golf tournament.

The list below is a product that boredom. Here are 10 things I’ve learned about commuting while bored aboard public transportation:

1. Pay the exact fare. The toll booth operators are getting more vigilant. I think the 45 cents change and paper clip that I put in last time might have tipped them off.

2. Always say “Never Enter Smelly Washrooms” when you come onto a subway platform. Partly because they’re wise words and partly to orient yourself so you don’t accidentally end up in Scarborough. Because nobody actually wants to go there, right?

3. Bus and subway doors are not your friends. They may look inviting, offering you a way in or out. But the moment you get in between them… SNAP!

4. Staring out the window on a subway while underground makes you look stupid. There’s nothing there but grimy tunnels and darkness. I need to stop doing it and stare at other Tamils instead.

5. Putting your bag on the empty seat next to you while on a crowded bus or subway is the 8th deadly sin. And if you like spreading yourself across three empty seats, expect to be reincarnated as a rock in your next life.

6. You never want to be that guy on the bus who ends up being a pillow for the old lady falling asleep next to him. It’s endearing for the first 5 seconds. Then it becomes unbearably awkward.

7. Wish you had something to do? Look hard enough and you might be able to scavenge a half-finished Sudoku or crossword puzzle lying around. And — if you’re lucky — maybe even a half-finished cup of coffee to go with it.

8. Tons of people read on the commute. Books are your best companion on the subway. At least until they figure out how to get reception  underground for your smartphone.

9. Public transportation becomes something like a mobile apartment to the commuter where one can eat, sleep and shower — though your fellow passengers might take issue with the last one.

10. Don’t let yourself get too distracted writing lists about commuting, or you might miss your stop…

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Braveen Kumar

Braveen Kumar

I'm really just a jack of all trades. Except math, science, drawing and most sports. Is that a bad way to open? Let me try again. My name is Braveen Kumar, and I'm a writer of sorts. Before you ask, yes, I am Tamil and yes, that is my full last name. I do a little creative writing in my spare time, which you can read at The Wrong Kind of Write. You can catch me on Twitter too @braveenk. I also freelance on the side, if you're interested in a writer-for-hire.

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