Jerks & Irks V: What NOT to do on the train…

…unless you WANT people to write blog posts about you.

As you all may know, I attended the ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Annual Writer’s Conference this past Saturday. I have oodles of awesome stuff to share and will be posting each day this week to make sure I cover it all. However, today is Monday and I have an obligation to my fledgling Jerks & Irks series. That being said, I am dedicating today’s installment to everyone that annoyed me on the train ride home from NYC to Philadelphia.


  • Don’t be a crazy person. This should be a no-brainer, especially in post-9/11 NYC. A man on the train was arguing loudly and frantically with his mother on the phone. I couldn’t see him, since he was in the next car (that’s right, he was SO loud I could hear him from the next damn car), but he was a man on the edge of serious breakdown. He kept repeating that he hadn’t gotten any sleep, was shaking, and didn’t know what to do but he didn’t want to argue anymore. Thankfully, another passenger alerted the boys in blue and he was escorted (and not quietly, might I add) off the train. But I still lost about six minutes of reading time because of his antics. No bueno.
  • Don’t clip your fingernails. You can’t be serious. You can’t possibly tell me that the only free moments you have available to tend to a basic staple of personal hygiene is on your commute. If this is even remotely true, you should really reevaluate your life because no one wants to feel the slight breeze created by your crescent-shaped projectile whizzing past their head. Gross.
  • Don’t be deaf, then not sit next to your companion. I get it, the train can be kinda loud. You’ve got crazy-face yelling into his cell phone at his mother, some pencil-wienie clipping his nails, and conversations abound. But your repetitive use of “Huh?” “What?” “Pardon?” “Hmm?” are irritating the crap out of everyone, including your poor friend who has to keep repeating herself. But, hey! You know what might help? IF YOU SAT NEXT TO THEM! Why in the heck are you across the aisle? You don’t even have any luggage or a bicycle or a ventriloquist dummy! What do you need all the roomy space for? Does your friend smell? No? Then get over there and hold a a nice, fluid conversation like a person!
  • Do not disruptively play angry birds. How does one become disruptive while playing angry birds you ask? By playing with the audio ON! Why would anyone play angry birds on a crowded train with the damn audio on? Do you feel as though the plucky music and similated sound effects enhance your understanding of physics and gravity? If there is such a correlation, you should probably try your hand at writing a scholarly paper on the subject, especially since writing is quieter than angry birds and I would like to get back to reading my book.
  • Do not be louder than your kid. I am not a kid person, I’ll readily put that out there for all the world to know. But there was a kid on the train that I thought was just frickin adorable! He was about 3 years old, quiet, and he didn’t even look sticky! The problem was actually his Dad. The man kept asking the child (and not in his inside voice) “Why you gotta be so bad, huh? Why you so bad?” Umm, the kid is just sitting there sir. Why are you being so bad? Shhh! Then the man broke out into a modified version of the theme from Cops, “Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do…” Great, so not only are you loud and annoying, you’re also providing the child with a subconscious stream of criminality. If you just absolutely MUST sing to him, might I suggest the A, B, C’s?
  • Do not play videos on your phone of yourself lip-syncing. As annoying as this was at the time, it was also the most entertaining because, quite frankly, you can’t make this stuff up. I won’t even have to make this funny, I’ll just recall it as it happened. A young man of about 20 years of age changed his seat to escape the incessant arguing of the aforementioned crazy-face. He sat directly in front of me. Once he got settled in, I started to hear a song. It was familiar, 90’s R&B I think, but I couldn’t recall the name of the song or the artist. I wondered why this young man would be listening to this “throwback” of a song; it was before his time. Then I stole a glance at his phone. I thought it was “face time” at first, but then I recognized the dude on the phone as the dude who had sat down in front of me. It seems the owner of the phone was watching a homemade video of himself lip-syncing the song I was hearing. It was hilarious. I stifled a laugh. The song ended. Then the kid went to his media gallery and chose ANOTHER video. He seemed to have about 20+ videos of himself lip-syncing various R&B songs. In one video he was shirtless, which wasn’t impressive since he probably weighed less than my ASJA swag bag. He eventually left, but not before I jotted this amusing tale down in my notebook.

I did manage to get some reading done, but more on that another day. Anyway, feel free to print this post out and hand it to people on the train.

9 thoughts on “Jerks & Irks V: What NOT to do on the train…

  1. This actually had me really laughing out loud, it reminds me of my last train journey to London and to think I thought this stuff only happened on crazy UK trains!!!! You’ve cheered me right up after a hideous Monday at my 9-5 cheers!!!!

  2. I spend a lot of my time on the train. I was glad you mentioned the finger nail clippings as that is definitely pet peeve #1 for me. My runner up has to be a tie between dudes ‘air guitaring’ and or rapping on the train. I like to support the arts, but I have limits. Great post.

    • Yup! That’s why I wrote it all down. If my main character happens to take a train somewhere, you’d best believe there will be a kid watching videos of himself lip-syncing on his cell phone. haha

  3. That’s nuts! Seems like that train ride was a scene out of a movie! A frustrating and annoying one, that is.

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