An open letter to rail commuters

Dear fellow rail commuter,

I wanted to write you this note so you have something to read on your journey home. I want to keep you company as you sit outside another suburban station miles from your house, as you sit on another ice cold platform, as you wait for your replacement bus service in a town you’ve never heard of.

I wanted to write you this note to divert your attention from what’s going on around you.

To stop you from unleashing fresh hell on the man who’s listening to Meat Loaf on full volume in the seat opposite. To stop you from hurling profanities at the lady eating a katsu curry out of a bag in the seat beside you. To stop you from launching your newspaper at the girl across the aisle who’s having an argument on the phone with her boyfriend about who left the cooker on.

I’m sorry, I’ve messed up. You’re not sitting down are you?

I hope you can read this from the depths of that man’s armpit in which you have been burrowed since Burgess Hill. I hope that you can read this through the scarf you have over your face to block the smell of the toilet you are leaning against. I hope that you can read this in amongst the suitcase friends you have made in the luggage rack.

I wanted to keep you company, because I know you left work two hours ago. I know you only live an hour away from the office. And I know you’re still three hours from your front door. 

I wanted to keep you busy as I know you’ve completed every puzzle in the paper, and I know you’ve used up all your data trying to find out where you are and when you’ll be home, and I know that you don’t bother bringing a book for the journey anymore because you no longer have the space to open your arms wide enough to turn the pages.

I wanted to write you this note so you had something to do other than check your bank balance and see how much money you’ve lost to your rail provider. I wanted to write you this note so that you have something else to occupy your mind then the complete injustice of spending thousands of pounds a year just to apologise for your constant tardiness.

I wanted to distract you from the fact that you are late to yet another dinner with your wife. That you’ve missed yet another bath time with the kids. That you have once again found yourself eating toast for dinner because you got home an hour after you normally go to bed.

I wanted to take your mind off of the foot you nearly broke in the scrum getting on the carriage you’re now on, take it away from socking the bloke one who keeps asking you ‘to move down’. Move down to where?! To stand on top of that pensioner? I wanted to take your mind away from weighing up how much your London life is worth this drama. How much happier you could be working the deli counter in your local Sainsbury’s. Take your mind off of thinking how much money is really worth this shit.

I wanted to write you this note to let you know that you are not alone.

Stay strong, you’re nearly home*

With fondest regards,

The woman crying, doing her make up and Googling ‘how much could I actually earn working in Croydon’.


*you’re not.


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