I encounter all kinds of interesting people when I commute to Sydney twice a week for meetings at our head office. On any given day, I hear two or three different languages being spoken - sometimes more. And usually, if someone's going to annoy me, it's going to be a teen who, away from parental supervision, is going to act up, be loud and obnoxious, put their feet up on the seats, and just generally be a pain in the ass. What's worse is when they are in groups of more than three.
On the first leg of my journey home tonight (and I call them legs because it takes me about 2.5 hours to travel each way on the train), I encountered one such group of obnoxious 15 year old girls, who decided to regale everyone on the train with an equally obnoxious rap tune that was blaring from their iPod: six girls, shouting at the tops of their lungs, thinking they were "cool" and that everyone wanted to listen to their music.
I had to remind myself that I was young once and probably was obnoxious on occasion. Even bookworms can be obnoxious.
I was glad to change trains for the second leg of my trip, which is usually much more comfortable than the first leg. I boarded the second train gladly, in preparation to relax and watch the countryside go by, but the first thing that greeted me when I boarded the train was the smell. Urine. Unwashed bodies. It stunk in the carriage.
I was resolved to having to just grin and bear it, and thought about rubbing some more solid perfume on me (kept in my handbag in case of emergencies) to help masque the odour, when a woman sat down next to me with her three year old son.
"Oh no," I thought. "This just caps it off. There's no way I'm going to relax now."
Mother sat there with her son on her lap. They'd been into the city to visit the Chinese Garden and have a day out. They were quite charming. The mother didn't talk down to her child, but, as most mothers do, knew him better than he knew himself.
"I have a headache" the little boy announced.
"That's too bad," the mother said. "You know what that means, don't you? Right to bed when we get home. No TV for you."
A few moments passed.
"Do you still have a headache?" asked the mother.
"No... I just feel sick," the little boy said.
"Sick?" asked the mother.
"In the head," said the little boy.
I almost chuckled out loud and couldn't help smiling over the little boy's attempts at conveying how he felt, while at the same time, thinking he might be able to avoid having to go to bed when he got home.
As I nurse my own headache from the commute tonight, I think, "don't worry, kid. Just wait 'til you grow up."