As I stood on the Victoria Line this morning, head nestled into a stranger’s arm pit and hair getting tangled in the gale blowing through the open window, I thought about my life, and how I never really expected it to end up like this – involving one hour every single day – ok, Monday to Friday – snuggled up to strangers who are infecting me with their germs and angering me with their oversized luggage. But here I am. And I reckon at least 50 per cent of you spend your days in a similar way.
We all know we’re supposed to be Christ-like all the time, and that mentally planning the ways you’re going to destroy that teenager’s headphones so his terrible music stops blaring out and disrupting your viewing of Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared is wrong, but it isn’t easy. So here, I’ve attempted to single out five easy ways to bring a little kindness to the commute, because I for one need it.
1 – Love the luggage
I understand that I’m the world’s most intolerant human being, but is there really anything more annoying than a wheelie suitcase outside of their natural habitat – the airport? I guess the only thing that tops it is two in the height of Rush Hour. While keeping my opinions on luggage needing to be proportionate to one’s ability to haul it with minimum inconvenience to others to myself, I’m going to reform. From now on, I’m going to offer a hand on the escalator, help the bags disembark once they reach their destination and try to keep the pain from my face when I see a suitcase obstructing the doors.
2 – Give up your seat
And I don’t just mean offer your coveted seat when a pregnant lady comes to stand in front of you in a rather obvious way. No, I mean give that free seat to someone else in the carriage, don’t race to the empty seat when getting on or maybe even leave a seat empty so that it’s a nice treat for someone at the next stop.
3 – Pray for the person next to you
Anyone who’s ever spent time praying knows that it makes you a much nicer person – at least for the first few minutes after you stop. This alone is a good reason to pray during the commute, without also considering the benefit to your fellow passenger who is the recipient. Pray for their day. Pray for their family. And pray that they might get to know Him.
4 – Take out your headphones
Yes, it feels weird, so I’m not expecting you to do this for every journey, but why not give it a go once a week? Being unplugged heightens your awareness of your surroundings and the opportunities they might hold. Look around, smile, and see what happens.
5 – Stop pretending not to see that person
Just me? Ok then, here comes my confession: some mornings I just can’t face idle chit chat with friends, let alone that person you haven’t seen since Year 11 leavers’ assembly. As aforementioned, my commute is my catch-up time for all the TV I miss. But from now on, I’m going to pull myself together, pause my iPad and give “hello” a go.