It doesn’t matter if you are having a journey by plane, train bus or on a cart dragged by mules. A long transfer puts you always in close contact with other people. It may be a chance for making new friends or just a neverending awkward moment. Whatever you think about it, it always starts with one question: “Who is going to seat beside me today?”
Yeah, I’m a selfish and sad person. So I came up with eight kinds of people I wish they will never be allowed again to travel while I’m around.
Flower Power strikes back
Dressed with hemp fabric or jute bags formerly used for fertilizer and recycled in a maximum security prison in Bogota. Long hair, unkempt beard, sandals or flip-flops no matter if it’s winter or Siberia. Gives me a sly look and, after learning I’m going to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party, adds with superiority: “Yeah, was kinda cool twenty years ago… now they got almost a dozen bungalows on the beach, it’s gone mainstream… I am going to Pulau Gebe, on a beach so crappy not even monkeys dare to take a bath…” And him being no more than 19 it’s no obstacle to his cocky overconfidence.
Mother of hell spawns
Alright, kids are the future. But why have they to be also my atrocious present during a 16-hour ride by train from Puri to Kolkata? And why can everyone hear them screaming, from the conductor in the first coach to the old deaf lady in the last one, while the mother radiates serenity and looks carelessly through the window? What happens to women’s auditory canal after delivering the babies, does it change the incoming sounds?!
“How comes such a handsome lad as you couldn’t find a good woman to marry?” (I did. She ditched me. All 39 of them), “And why are you travelling alone? Aren’t you afraid of travelling all by yourself?” (only thing I’m afraid of right now, is meeting you again on the next bus), “You know, you are identical with my blond, two-metre tall, volleyball champ son” (really? I guess it’s a common trait to all short, dark-skinned Southern Italians…), “And you know, I remember when I was young… are you sleeping?” (no, I’m faking an irreversible coma, but if I try hard enough maybe I’m able to induce a real one).
The failed latin lover
When you got on the bus you were but a happy soul, a kind and quite girl full of dreams and hope, ready do explore far places and make new friends. When you first crossed his glance you offered the usual neutral smile, but in his mind it was a declaration of neverending love. When he asked for the seat next to yours, you had no reason to refuse, and that was the confirmation you were waiting for him. Nine hours later, after nonstop banalities, unasked compliments, sordid faked casual contacts with his sweaty hands, you became an anarcho-revolutionary-feminist, supportive of female-only cloning and right to after-birth abortion in case of males.
Honey moon couples
Of course I’m happy to shot a photo of the two of you. How cute you are. Sure, she’s beautiful, you’re a lucky guy. Alright, go on with another colonoscopy while I’m answering to your umpteenth stupid question. Of course I don’t mind I had to move in front of this lurid toilet so you can seat together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going quickly to throw up. Will be back in a second…
The anxious know-all
My dear pimply friend, I barely know where we are going. If on my arrival I find out the locals do not indulge in cannibalism, that’s already a success. How on hell should I know which train in Shanghai gets you to Ying Yang Yung Hotel or whatever? Or which may be the most convenient mean to reach the pond where Napoleon once peed? Yeah, I’m really happy for you if you went through 37 vaccinations and attended swahili classes for two months before leaving. I’m sure you will enjoy to their fullest this three-day trip you were planning since you were six.
A cumbersome presence
This one is a classic, but it comes in different forms. Maybe it’s a bulky guy needing not just two seats, but the whole hold to stay comfortably without flattening half of the passengers. Maybe it’s a backpacker moving around with his Canada-sized backpack, in addition to a saddlebag, four different mobile devices and a cryogenic container filled with spare organs. Maybe it’s just an alternative version of Lady Crackpot, whose only life reason is telling you that armrest it’s not yours, neither is the room where you are stretching your legs and if you really had to answer that phone call you could at least climb on the roof. To all these people I want to say just one thing: thank you, thank you all, because should I ever end in a Cambodian seclusion cell, I will be able to enjoy the bright side of it.
In the beginning he just looks as any average guy, seats quietly and barely speaks. But during the journey you see him scrutinizing the other passengers, scribbling on his notepad and interfering in other people’s conversation with probing tone. After the thirteenth time he got spotted while shooting a close-up of a yemenite woman travelling with her parents to meet her husband, half of the passengers are ready to lynch him. If you are not among them, you may feel some pity and start chatting with him, but beware: he may draw your character analysis and use it for some dull blog. That’s right: me too, I am among the people you hope never to meet on a long journey!
And what about you? Are you among the mentioned kinds of people? Or did you ever meet one of them? Share your experience with us!