Peak hour trams in Melbourne are often full beyond their capacity according to some recent stats reported in the Age this week. This is no surprise to those of us who commute to and from work every day. Aside from being dangerous, just as filling any vehicle beyond it's capacity is dangerous, it's often inconvenient and plain old uncomfortable.
Occasionally I get on my morning or evening tram and find that there is a seat available. I always check if someone else wants the seat, because that's how I was raised, but often I get to sit down and spend my journey reading in something approaching comfort. Sounds good right? Lucky me!
Well, my luck is often short lived, as a peak hour tram with capacity quickly fills up. The emptiness of a peak hour tram is usually something to be suspicious of. If it's not due to a crazy nude abusive drunk guy carrying a meteorite, it's probably due to a scheduling problem.
If a very full tram preceeded my half empty tram by a few minutes, it will only be a matter of time before those people who couldn't stand the crush on the previous tram overflow into mine. When they do, having a seat is a burden. Sitting down on a very full tram presents a few problems:
1. Visibility: you can't see past the crush out of the windows, so you can miss your stop.
2. Access to the door: getting to the door through the blank faced, burnt out, unmoving, headphone wearers before the doors close at your stop can be a challenge.
3. You're in the way: people step on your feet and fall on you.
4. Backpack, handbag and briefcase injuries: your head is roughly in the path of everything people can sling over their shoulders.
5. And my favourite: your face is more or less at ass or crotch level in relation to the people who are crammed into the standing room around you.
Issue number 5 makes me think back to a scene early in Fight Club, where the two aspects of the main character are on a plane and Tyler Durdin needs to get out of his window seat. He muses if it is rude to ask if someone prefers crotch or ass? or is it rude not to ask?
What would you prefer?