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That Person: Requests from a Commuter

Commuting. It can be a struggle on a good day and painstakingly horrible on a bad one. However it is not the people who commute regularly who make traveling difficult. Everyday people lacking common sense (and sometimes respect) take the bus or train for the first time, slowing down the entire process for the rest of us. No one likes the person who delays our already too-tight schedule. No one wants to be the person who is on the bad side of glares and rude mumbles. Here are some tips for commuting that will help you not be that person.

Don’t be that person who doesn’t have their ticket ready.

It happens everyday: the line for the bus is around the corner with tired commuters shuffling to their seats. Already we are moving slowly just out of exhaustion from a long day combined with the pessimistic prospect of traffic clogging the highway home. Then a dazed traveler shows up with a printed ticket which they awkwardly hand to the driver. What they never realized is that it says directly on the ticket that a valid ID must be shown. Instead of having this prepared so the line continues right up the steps onto the bus, they have to search through multiple bags to find their giant wallet which holds every card they have ever owned. It only takes a few of these travelers to make a bus 15 minutes late.

Toward the end of that anecdote a little frustrated exaggeration sneaked in, but overall that is the basic gist of what happens when that person holds up the line. It is also what we are all thinking about as we crane our heads to see why the line is stopped. Avoid holding up the queue by reading your ticket, identifying what validation you require and finding out what the luggage space is like (before you bring your bag on the bus in time to realize it is not going to fit). A commuter bus is given as an example here but the same tip applies to trains as well: be prepared.

Don’t be that person that talks the whole way there.

The rules are a little different depending on if you are taking a train or bus. On a train, quiet conversations between families and friends are tolerated as part of the experience. Seating arrangements support this communication as well. However on a bus the driver often asks that passengers keep their conversations to a minimum out of respect for everyone else. Woman arguing with her boyfriend loudly over the phone, do you really want to air your dirty laundry to us all? Teenagers laughing and squealing toward the back of the bus, do you really want a tired, annoyed commuter to come back there?

The overall tip here is to be courteous to your fellow passengers. Whispering is acceptable. A quick phone conversation to arrange a ride from the bus station is understandable. Prolonged discussions on the state of foreign affairs in our country can wait.

Don’t be that person who walks and texts in a crowded area.

The subway is a hot, unreliable and seriously overpopulated transportation system; but it is an integral part of living and commuting in Boston as well. Getting on the train can be difficult to say the least with the hundreds of people trying to pack into valuable space. When exiting the subway there is only a few feet of room to walk alongside the train as you head for street level. In a perfect world everyone leaves the train, briskly walks toward the stairs and enters the sunlight before picking up their phone. In reality, not so much.

People that leave a subway and walk as if everything in the world will wait for them to send a text are almost shove-worthy to experienced commuters. Is whatever you’re messaging really so important that it cannot wait until you are topside? Yes? Then pick up the phone and call the person so you can continue to look straight ahead and walk at the pace of a normal human being. You will be appreciated for keeping walking traffic at a steady pace.

Don’t be that person listening to music without headphones.

This behavior is an icon of the 1980s when hip hop and rap artists would strut down the street with a boom box on their shoulder. However the sleek, clear radios have been replaced by people blaring music on their tiny iPhone speakers attempting to bring back the trend. You are not. The quality of music is so incredibly decreased from a boom box to an iPhone that it is hard to believe some try to make the comparison. Also, watching a movie on a device without headphones is no lesser an evil.

This is an easy tip to achieve: buy headphones. They can cost less than a cup of coffee; have some priorities

Don’t be that person having a Sunday drive in the left lane.

Commuters who brave the dangers of Massachusetts highways and the peril of city driving, this last one is for you. The person mentioned here is the one who notices the left lane on the highway (known as the passing lane) looks relatively open and decides to shift over there. They then slow to a cool 55 mph undisturbed by the 20 people trapped behind them. Maybe this person has all the time in the world, but the rest of us have places to be. Which is why we are in the passing lane.

Before getting a license, U.S. states require applicants to complete a driving exam. In order to receive a passing grade most people study a long list of potential questions. Before commuting on a crowded highway into a congested city remember what you (hopefully) learned during your time as a driving student so that you can help maintain a  normal highway speed.

Despite everything said above, do not be afraid to commute; the experienced among us can understand the typical first time mistakes. We can even be helpful when asked for assistance. Just remember: being a respectful, appreciated commuter is not a difficult task. With some research and a bit of common sense anyone can accomplish all these tips.

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