Category Archives: Pamela

Sitting Down

I’m holding onto my coffee. Breathe. Breathe. It’s a reusable cup. I’m doing the right thing, saving our planet. The Dairy Grind cafe advertise their little logo of eco friendly and sustainable coffee harvesting. We are supporting local farmers in some country. Small communities. The milk is local, so they say. Just me and my coffee.

There’s a train coming. I missed my last train, so I’m completely out of my comfort zone. I don’t know what the schedule is, but I do know it’s stopping at my station. The display board says so. It’s slowly coming a stop.

I’ve only have to stand behind the yellow line and I can alight the carriage, but how? Where do I sit? These aren’t my people, my community of travellers. They aren’t my village. Am I intruding?

The carriage door blankly faces me. The deafening warning tone of the door lock release alarm my senses. I find my finger pressing the button to open the doors. With a swish, they open. It’s quiet onboard. Deafeningly quiet.

There are lots and lots of empty seats. I freeze. There’s a woman in the seat, where is usually sit on my train. I turn, there are five empty seats in the six seater. A man wearing headphones looks up from his screen and looks at me. Someone else coughs. I quickly sit down.

There’s a man sitting in the two seater I’m sitting in. His shirt blends in with the colour of the seat fabric. ‘I didn’t see you’, I think to myself. I’ve made my decision. I pull down the tray-table, placing my coffee cup on it. My handbag becomes squashed on my lap. I fidget. I realign my weight. I fidget. The man next to me does nothing. No reaction. I look over, he is squashed in the corner.

I look back to my coffee cup. I move my arm, but my forearm is touching his. Why did I move my arm? It wasn’t offending anyone? I have to get out of here. The man next to me does nothing. He stares out the window. I’m staring at his wild eyebrows. His nostrils expand and contract, can he smell something I can’t?

I remove my coffee cup from the tray-table, return the tray back to its position, lock it back in place, take hold of my handbag and stand.

There are more empty seats further into the carriage. I move past a woman, her shoulder peeking out from her seat. How can I manoeuvre past without touching her? I spy another seat before her. I sit down.

I sit down with a sigh or frustration and relief. I hear a, “haaaaa” exhale from my lips. The man next to me imitates my “haaaaa”. Surreptitiously, I glance sideways, but he isn’t facing my direction. Just like the other man, he looks out the window. Was there an echo in the carriage? I have to move.

The crackled announcement over the PA tells me the train is approaching my stop. “Haaaaa”, I say to myself. Again, I hear the echo.

Standing by the carriage door, and as the alarm sounds to warn of the opening doors, I press the release button and make my uncomfortable escape.

– Pamela

The Dairy Grind

I live by the position of the sun, where it sits in the sky, indicating the starting or setting of a season. Summer is the easiest to navigate by the blue skies and twits on the ground.

Summer at The Dairy Grind includes my ritual at the beginning of my daily rail journey. Without my reusable cup of hot coffee goodness, my world would be a disaster. It’s not just the coffee, it’s the echoing sounds of the coffee beans grinding, milk swishing and gurgling and cheerful tones of the dapper young dandy behind the counter in the Edison-globe lit cafe.

Dressed in a waistcoat, ankle length stripped trousers, brightly coloured socks, matching multi-coloured Cuban heeled leather shoes with a straight-edge toe, a belt buckle glimpsing the sunshine and crisp red collared shirt. He finishes off his fashion with a manicured full beard and a flat cap to match his shoes. He’s got it going on.

At first, I thought the dandy had commandeered the cafe whilst its owner was indisposed, but to my surprise, he is the owner. Is this his chosen career or is it a stopgap to something greater? I question what happens after the morning peak. Does he shut up shop and turn his skills to something greater?

Most mornings I’m first at the yellow line, to safely stand behind and await my carriage. It took three weeks to perfect the best waiting position, to align myself with the door of the train. It always stops in the same location every morning. Nine times out of ten. Except, this morning, a man in a beige business suit and brown shoes stood in my position. Firstly, those shoes did not match his suit. Secondly, who is this man standing in my spot? Seriously!

The best way to show him up was not to impart my fashion sense when it comes to shoes. Hah. I love the karma bus.

I was faced with an awkward decision, do I stand to his left or his right? The wrong decision could potentially impact seating arrangements on the train. I was not prepared to have blame laid at my feet.

Standing to his left meant I would be limited to seats at the end of the carriage. Generally, there are seats available at this time of the morning, but Sod’s law would interfere meaning I’d be left standing. How do I hold on with my reusable coffee cup in one hand and phone, in the other?

Standing to his right meant I would have a greater choice of seats, but fewer options to double seats, possibly being faced with having to sit in a triple seat. No one wants to be squashed against the wall or pushed off your seat into the aisle. And there’s the nightmare of sitting in the middle.

Standing there without knowing how best to approach this conundrum, the man looked sideways towards my general direction. Now I have to make up my mind. I’ve been caught out.

No! Where did she come from? She took my place, I was going to stand insitu of my original position because he took my place. I know it makes no sense, but women and I don’t get along. She’s standing to his left, leaving the right-hand side for me to stand. Now the equilibrium of the carriage will be unbalanced. I’ll be forced to sit in someone else’s seat. Then, the person I’ve inadvertently inconvenienced will sit in someone else’s space and so on. The domino effect intensifies. Eventually, someone is left standing.

Quickstep to the right and I’m in my sidestepped position.

I want to know who this trespassing businessman thinks he is! That’s my spot.

My coffee, I need to focus on my coffee. Hot. Sweet. Arabic. Comfortable. Unobtrusive. Breathe. Breathe. I have coffee. The train might stop up short and I’ll be standing in the perfect spot. They will alight the train behind me and the natural order of this morning will return.

The announcement for the arrival of my train is comforting, yet my anxiety begins to surge from the pit of my stomach. And it slowly rises. Breathe. Breathe. I have coffee. With a brave face, I leaned a little, looked towards the approaching train. A colourful glistening hue of beauty trundled towards the station with great anticipation. Agitation. Anxiety. My lungs tighten. My heart.

Breathe. Breathe. Coffee.

The train appears. Carriage number one. Carriage number two. First Class carriage. Carriage number four. The train slows. I clasp my reusable coffee cup. The train slows. Carriage number six. The train dramatically slows. Carriage number eight and the first door.

Edging towards me the second door on the eighth carriage gingerly works its way towards me. The Driver aims for his spot to safely bring his train to a complete stop. I can smell the carriage as it slows and slows. My anxiety reaches its peak and my hand clasps my reusable coffee mug to breaking point as the door comes to a complete stop.

Not only did the door of carriage number eight pass me, the door to the carriage missed the business suit and sneaky woman, completely. A movement of people, like I’ve never seen before, throughout the entire station platform shifted to the left, causing upset throughout the community of train passengers. For a moment, the man in The Daily Grind stopped grinding his beans and looked up, out his cafe window to investigate the upset.

Defeated, I had to stand back and asses the situation. Defeated, my anxiety drove me to snap. My brow beaded with sweat. My hands were shaking and some of my life-saving coffee spilled onto the station platform, scorching my fingers as I allowed the disaster to wash over me.

Behind me, a station bench seat lay empty. I had to sit down. There was only one thing I could do after such an outburst of anxiety and strain, was to sit down at the train station as the train departed without me. I couldn’t face the embarrassment of being looked at by the passengers waiting for us to alight their carriage.

– Pamela