Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eye Witness In the Train

What do you observe during your daily trips on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)?

In the morning, you probably struggle to crank up your sleepy body. In the evening, you probably feel beat and you just want to go home. But that does not mean that you are totally oblivious to some of the common behaviors in the MRT.

Some of these behaviors never existed until we started to have the MRT in 1987.

As far back as 1967, Singapore city planners have envisioned that this little city state would need a rail-based transport system. After years of debate, construction started in 1983 at Shan Road and the rest was history.

Every month, more than 40 million trips are made on the MRT. Occasionally, I contribute to some of these trips. I am often either amused or disturbed by some of the quirky behaviors sighted during my rides.

Here are 10 of the more common scenes I have come to notice. Check it out: Are you ever guilty of playing the main cast in some of these scenes? If you earn a high score out of 10, go and meditate over the meaning of 'gracious'. :o(

Scene 1: I Come, I Rush and I Dash

You arrive at the platform and there are already many other commuters waiting for the next train. You squeeze through the crowd so that you will be among the first to board. You step over and ignore the yellow lines on the floor. When the train arrives, you ram into the stream of out-coming crowd. Sometimes they curse at you and sometimes, you return with the same.

Scene 2: What Are You Reading?
You are bored and you start to scan around the coach. The commuter seated next to you is reading his morning papers. At the corner of your eyes, you discreetly share his papers and gleefully update yourself with the day's headlines. When he turns his page prematurely, you give up your half-read article reluctantly and silently blame your benefactor.

Scene 3: What Do You Mean You Can Hear Me?
You board the train with your MP3 in your hand. Your favorite tune pumps forcefully into your ears with enhanced bass. The beats are so great and it takes away your blues. Occasionally, other commuters turn to you and give you dirty looks. They seem annoyed while your music generously oozes out from the edge of your earphone. Totally drown in your own world, you shut your eyes and are too absorbed to care.

Scene 4: Why Can't I Sit Here?
The train is crowded. You count yourself lucky getting a seat next to the train door. The other 'not so lucky' commuters are standing around you. They alternate their glares between you and the sign above you. The sign reads, "Please offer this seat to someone who needs it more than you do." However, you decide to plea 'temporary illiteracy' and you ignore those disgusted looks.

Scene 5: What's Wrong With PDA?
You are with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) and all you can see is the sweetest face on earth. You have so much to share with her. You talk, you laugh and you smooch. The train is not empty but you can only see her. Your Public Display of Affection (PDA) is within full view of everyone around you but you feel nothing. Meanwhile, some little fellow commuters are gawking at what might seem like a rated movie. However, you decide that the show should continue without any censorship.

Scene 6: Me? The Human Pendulum?
After 20 minutes into a long ride, you gradually drift into a comatose state. The images around you begin to turn blur and you cannot quite remember what you see next. You oscillate between the commuters seated on your left and right, much to the amusement of those watching you. They swear that they can even see you drool. (Note: The above gadget might solve your problem.)

Scene 7: Why Would I Need A Leash?
You are traveling with a free rider because he is below the height of 0.9m. Everything is fine except that your little companion is too excited about the free ride. He creatively transforms the coach into a temporary playground, hanging himself on 'monkey bars' and swirling around the metal poles. You cannot understand why he is
so adrenaline-filled. You also cannot understand why the other commuters are staring at you as if begging, "Would you please leash that little being of yours??" At your designated stop, you stroll out of the coach and the unleashed free rider dashes out of his playground.

Scene 8: Pole-Dancing? Did I?

The train ride is generally smooth but with some occasional 'turbulence'. You appreciate the metal pole next to you as it helps you to fight against the centrifugal force. You get carried away. You begin to run your fingers up and down the pole. You lean your body on it and gently twirl yourself around it. Meanwhile, the other commuters stand wobbly as they are deprived of the much-needed support. You are oblivious while others grit their teeth and give you a 2/10 rating for your amateurish pole dancing.

Scene 9: Hey! Good Looking!
You spotted this gorgeous belle (or hunk). You decide that it is such a pleasure just to ogle at her. You know it is nothing flirtatious but you allow your eyes to indulge. She comes to notice your inappropriate stare and returns you with her dirty look. You sheepishly look away.

Scene 10: What's That Cool Stuff You Are Holding?
You are attracted to this guy (or gal) or rather, the sleek and shiny gadget he is holding. You become curious. You observe what he does with his geek stuff. You quietly wish that you too have the same toy. You inch yourself closer to get a better view only to groan when he pushes his toy back into his pocket.

The above scenes look mild if I compare with the depressing behavior of track jumpers. Every year, about 30 perpetrators intentionally or accidentally land themselves on the tracks. Some never get back onto the platform alive. All the cases took place on the above-ground portions of the train line.

Although long overdue, it is good to learn that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be installing 1.5m half-height platform screen doors at 3 above-ground MRT stations (Pasir Ris, Jurong East and Yishun) by the end of next year. The other 33 above-ground stations will get the same by 2012.

Hopefully with the gates in place, no one will stray onto the tracks and cause thousands of other commuters to be stranded by stalled train services.

The next time you are on board a train, stay observant. Watch the behaviors of others and those of yours too!

Next stop: Gracious Station.

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1 comment:

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