Reader Rants: Public Transport

Category: Reading

There is a certain type of sadness that comes with reading. It happens not too infrequently and when it does I feel the same sense of irritation toward the insensitive nature of my fellow citizens. Cryptic sentences aside, don’t you hate it when people talk so loudly on the bus that you can’t concentrate on your book?

I know it may be slightly selfish to think that people should maintain complete silence for my personal satisfaction, and I’m not necessarily asking for that, just a little bit of courtesy would be lovely. There are few things I enjoy more than escaping the tediousness of my morning commute by reading a good book. Sadly, however, the world doesn’t always play ball. Every reader has faced the horrible pattern of re-reading the same paragraph half a dozen times, completely at a loss of its content due to the booming voice of an irate individual somewhere in their near vicinity.

There are few things I enjoy more than escaping the tediousness of my morning commute by reading a good book

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for lively discussion; in the age of the smartphone a conversation is becoming a bit of a novelty. But it would be just super if the two passengers intent on talking at higher than (I believe) necessary volume would see the book in my hand (which I’ve been careful to raise ever so slightly as they approach) and choose to sit in any other seats than those either directly behind or in front of me.

And I know buses can be busy places and people don’t always have the luxury of choice, but it’s inexplicable to me that a person would choose to sit directly behind – or very occasionally beside (the horror!) – another person when all around them there are masses of empty seats.

Worse still are the leaky headphone wearers. Invariably playing some kind of terribly popular music, their lack of appreciation for my own travelling pleasure, as well as their soon to be destroyed ear canals, pains me so. And I know we all have to unwind in our own way, but the trouble is my method of unwinding doesn’t disturb theirs (unless I turn pages a lot louder than I think I do). Many a time I have considered confronting them over their poor manners – and even poorer music taste – but common sense prevails and I struggle on with my broken reading – or admit defeat and pull out my (non-leaky) headphones.

Of course, this is all just an unfortunate bi-product of public transport. There are good days, bad days and the worst of days (these usually consist of a very late bus, an extremely hot or mercilessly cold cabin temperature, and the aforementioned complete disregard of my need to read). Another of my favourites is when people try to preserve their isolation by giving their bags, coats or ipads/laptops seats all to themselves and throwing you looks of unparalleled contempt when you dare to ask if they can be moved so you don’t need to stand in the aisle.

With the New Year now upon us maybe we could all resolve to be a little more sensitive to our fellow travellers

So with the New Year now upon us maybe we could all resolve to be a little more sensitive to our fellow travellers and make the days when I stow away my book in a fit of internal rage less frequent.

Or maybe I should just try audiobooks…

Need some inspiration for a new book to read this year? Have a look at our picks of Scottish novels to look forward to in 2018.

Fallen out of your reading habit on the daily commute? Check out our top tips to put down your phone blog.

Subscribe to our monthly e-updates for book lovers