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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Public Transport Hell

The train was into the second stop on the line when she sat next to me.

I was secretly annoyed because I was talking on the phone. One minute I was in full flight in a conversation and two seconds later I had a stranger sitting next to me.

Staring right at my face.

Now, far be it from me to call "weirdbag alert" but the signs were not looking good. So, suddenly I had to get off the phone from a conversation I was enjoying because I didn't feel comfortable with this strange woman listening in.

Stop 3 - I'm off the phone and thinking "oh, she's probably not a weirdo. Look, she looks quite normal." And she did, maybe in her 30s or 40s, normal looking as far as I could tell.

Then the smell hits me. Ammonia. Cat's p!ss? Human? Eeek.

Out of everyone on the train I get the lucky seat. The insides of my nostrils stung.

"Tough it out." I said to myself. "Is it coming from her?" I sniffed again, nearly gagging.

Yes it was.

She then proceeded to put her feet on the seats in front of her. The smell got stronger. That meant one of two things. Either she had stepped in... or....I didn't want to think anymore.

Then I realise something. I'm trapped in. The seats are three on each side. I was seated near the window, she near the aisle (do you call it an aisle on a train? That makes it sound so much more exciting). She had placed her feet on the seat opposite her so I was trapped in. I had to get her to move her feet in order to get out.

Okay, I'm trapped in. I thought. No! Even better, I'm trapped in and now she's got her eyes closed.

Oh, crap.

So I can't signal that I want to get out because she can't see me. But I must get out because if I don't, my nostril hairs will never be the same again.

Stop 4 - I start taking shallow breaths.

Stop 5 - I think I can make it.


She coughed so loudly it made me jump. What the hell?

Lucky me, the cough had been coming my way without a courtesy cover. Sh!t, now her eyes were closed again. I'm not touching her leg. That's just it.

The smell got so strong I started to absorb it through my eyes, nose and ears.

"Wouhoughagh!" "Cack!"

I saw my chance! She had just opened her eyes momentarily to make that horrendous sound. Without a pause I leapt up and stood for a second, not breathing, while she slowly lowered her legs from the seat.

I walked calmly, very quickly away from the area, stopping at the other end of the carriage. I will never forget that smell as long as I live.

When I got off the platform for some reason someone was smoking some green stuff at this very busy, very popular Melbourne station.

I stood with my nose in the air, taking very deep breaths.

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