by Holm | View Posts

Several hours of my day are spent on a train. The distance I travel in my day-job is too far to travel by any other means. The rest of my journeys happen by bike with a bag on my back and since I suffer chronic shoulder pains I do not wish to burden myself with the heavy load of a computer in my travels. The big question on how to make this setup remotely tolerable boils down to the simple question how to make travelling by train entertaining when all you have is a backpack with a pencil case and your lunch.

There are several ways of doing so. The one I use the most, when no other options are available, is listening to audiobooks. I read quite a few scientific papers during my day, enough so that when I get off work, I do not wish to read at all, but spending my hours on train listening rather than reading, allows me to reflect and use my imagination despite my weary attitude towards reading at the end of the day, ultimately leaving the time seem well spent to me. My second favourite, a more primitive pastime, involves situating myself opposite a beautiful girl. It is not common knowledge that the windows in trains make for great reflectors allowing any and all to adore the aesthetic beauty of a pretty girl in a discrete manner. Yes, indeed, I am a creep.

My favourite pastime ‘on the fly’ is situating myself across someone, anyone, talking on their cellphone. The entertainment for me is an exercise in interpolating as much as possible about the problem that is discussed in the telephone along with the characteristics of each of the participants in the phone call and their relationship. This is basically implicit storytelling and it is about as real as any story can get, but it allows me to use reasoning and imagination to immense extends all in the confines of a seat on a train. Since listening is a passive process, as is reasoning, this is also a discrete entertainment at the expense of absolutely no one: harmless, yet fruitful.

These three options by no means sum up all the possible activities to pass the time on a train, but there are worse ways, like being stuck in a middle section with no seat, since too many people are riding the train. Worse yet, being stuck in said middle section, in a crowded train with your ex-girlfriend who is openly adamant about telling you and everyone else present how much she loathes your very person. Does it get any worse, than that you may wonder. Yes, her harpy of a mother was there, equally sharing – and equally insightful. I likely deserved it, though.