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This is a question Public Transport Trauma

Completely Underwhelmed writes, "I was on a bus the other day when a man got on wearing shorts, over what looked like greeny grey leggings. Then the stench hit me. The 'leggings' were a mass of open wounds, crusted with greenish solidified pus that flaked off in bits as he moved."

What's the worst public transport experience you've ever had?

(, Thu 29 May 2008, 15:13)
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Back in 2003 - 2005, I found myself in a long-distance relationship. This meant a lot of commuting, and I don't drive. Don't see the point in paying thousands of pounds, just to spend thousands more pounds to go places; etc, etc, etc, I'm sure someone else has mentioned by now the financial benefits of public transport.

Anyway, I was commuting a lot, from my home town of Liverpool, to my place of residence, here in North Derbyshire. Travelling on Sundays meant I needed to change at Manchester, then change again at Sheffield. This meant a lot of time was spent sat around at Manchester Piccadilly, on Platforms 13 & 14. Does anyone know why these Northbound platforms are so far out of the way, outside and exposed to the elements?

It was here, sat on a bench outside, on a warm, sunny late Winter/early Spring day in 2004, that my bizzare encounter began. I was approached by a group of 5 youths, aged around 18-22, and all looked to be of Middle-Eastern ethnicity. They sat next to me, and began speaking in a hybrid of English and their shared native tongue. Being on my own, I was obviously a little worried by this. My fear was not allayed when the youngest of the group suddenly turned to me and said "Good Afternoon", while the rest of the group sniggered.

I replied, and conversation started up between us. It was amicable; they asked where I was going, where I'd been, why I'd been there, then they told me where they were heading up to Leeds, and they'd just been to Manchester for the day because they'd been shopping. After a while bitching about train delays, the train arrived, and I decided that it'd be rude to not sit with this group and continue our conversation.

Old Father Time has cast his veil of uncertainty over much of the conversation, but I remember small parts.

- We talked about how my long-distance relationship was going. There was general agreement among my fellow travellers that they couldn't do long-distance relationships.
- This led into a joking reference to the fact that I must masturbate a lot. Unable to argue against this, I said nothing. The eldest of the group pointed to my right arm and told me it was clearly "just a wank muscle", while laughing.
- I asked if there was anything wrong with it, and they told me that they were Muslim, and that my wanking, in their eyes, was a sin, and I was going to hell for it.

Conversation then carried on with these Muslim chaps taking the piss out of one another, each claiming the other was clearly a hell-bound wanker.

I asked if it was difficult being Muslim, and their main complaint was about the white people that won't share a train carriage with them. I admit, I looked around, and the carriage was empty except us. The next carriage was full of people, but ours was empty. Of course, this made me somewhat angry, but more disappointed. These people were alright people, a bit crude, but certainly no more so than any white kids. This was just in the wake of the Madrid train bombings, but surely these would need to be the crappest suicide bombers in the world if they all sat in the same carriage, and had seemed to target just one infidel.

Anyway, I got to Sheffield, got off the train, and headed to my next train. I didn't get a phone number or e-mail address for any of my fellow commuters, but I did get some names. The one that seemed most interested in my relationship was called Shehzad Tanweer. Hasib Hussain was the one that was angriest about the treatment of Muslims on trains.

The conversation stuck with me for a long time, and probably changed my view on Muslims, and I became more aware of their plight in life and on public transport.

Then, of course, Shehzad and Hasib went and blew themselves up on the Tube in London, worsening the nation's view of Muslims further. Were they doing it for heaven? Perhaps they thought it would cancel out their wanking sins. Whatever, they were fucking idiots for doing it, and I found myself feeling very angry at them for it. I'm still angry now. I want to shout at them. The reason the carriage was empty, the reason Hasib was so pissed off, was because of people just like the person he went on to become.

Apologies for length, etc. Writing this out has depressed me a bit, actually.
(, Sat 31 May 2008, 11:23, Reply)

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