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A recent study has confirmed my worst held fears – using your phone on public transport is no longer considered rude.
You bastards. As I write this, I know I’ve failed. I’ve failed to adequately register my disgust, and it seems that there was nary a surplus of clicked tongues, rolled eyes, muttered threats or daggers to throw that’d halt the tide. You’ve won. Congratulations.
You there, the one on your phone. You, the ant to my cake, the cloud to my picnic, the disturber of my sleep, which I squandered last night. Why you choose to bring the rest of the carriage into your mundane, pithy, inane life is beyond me, as is the fact that everyone seems to be cool with it.
But that doesn’t make it right. And that doesn’t make me a martyr. All I’m saying is please shut up.
I don’t want this to come off as complaint, no. I come to you as a reformed addict, with my palms upturned, my hands empty. You see, most of my early twenties were spent having conversations over the phone, but with no-one on the other end. I did it to make myself feel better under the watchful, judgmental eyes of my fellow commuters. My life, according to the thousandfold shards of conversation I forced into the ears of strangers, was on track. I was climbing the ladder in the job I didn’t have, and I was madly in love with my life partner (Editor’s note: She was fictional, not a relation). I slipped about as far as a man could, washed away in a landscape of plastic positivity.
But, that was years ago (three), which is relative to my point. Good manners, as we know, cost nothing, but the societal cost is seemingly massive. Ideally, I’d like to see us return to the ’50s standard of politeness (perhaps this is due to the fact I was brought up in 1957 every year until my 18th birthday), but I understand the prehistoric beast Etiquesauras needs to be shelled by the asteroid of progress. Holding doors open, or donating your coat to the gutter in the name of a lady, should rightfully be retired, but I believe we should save the telephonic side from extinction. Because they’re already doing it elsewhere.
When I travelled to Japan, prior to me being sexually propositioned by some well-meaning Nigerians, I was almost kicked off a suburban train for the heinous crime of talking on my phone. Despite the fact that my voice was barely audible, barely forming the sentence “I’ll have to call you back”, staff and passenger alike bristled with the neon hurry of agitated nihonjin. It, in retrospect, was a fantastic moment of clarity.
Also on The Big Smoke
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The mentality of the pack is where the solution lies.
Now, anyone fortunate enough to travel the steel coffins of CityRail, perfumed with the come-hither scent of a thousand showers not had, will know that this utopia is almost in reach. The quiet carriage. Twentysomething seats where our most baser of instincts run wild.
He who talk on machine go out.
Ya. Googan too.
I’ve seen marvellous things happen; the hopelessly transient, the angry, those riding the crest of some towering drug, each silenced by the “shush” of an elderly figure who would soon turn to dust. Thems were the rules, even if there was no-one to enforce them.
I didn’t intend this to turn into a pseudo-political rant, but Ms Berejiklian, if you’re reading this, and I can assume you are, what I’m proposing is that you move the “Quiet Carriage” logo into the greater city. Print it on t-shirts, write the letters tall and red on the most prominent wing of the Opera House, back them onto adhesive so we, the tormented masses, can dole out our brand of state-sanctioned vigilante shushing whenever we feel ourselves hopelessly thrust into the pithy conversation of another.
And to you, my dwindling flock, this is a call to you to: may our fingers bleed furious antagonistic action as we fight this horror in the most meaningful way possible – with our mouths shut.