If you commute in a big city then you know that, quite frankly, it’s hell. In fact, hell is probably a vacation compared to the avalanche of traffic, terrible driving, body odors, manspreading, and blind rage that’s hurled at you daily as you make your way to and from your place of business.
If you’re climbing that proverbial ladder of success, then you most likely need to get to an office. And unfortunately, until you can beam yourself there a la Star Trek, you’re likely getting there by car, train, bus, or foot, all of which have their own charming way of ruining your day. Mad respect for those of you who can endure it all without breaking a sweat—but for the rest of us, let’s commiserate together over these 18 struggles that are so real if you have to commute in a major city.
1. How weird it is to know the intimate details of strangers’ lives.
Instead of going to a therapist or place of worship, lots of people prefer using public transportation as their confessional. Seriously, why do they feel the need to loudly have soul bearing, heart-to-hearts with their lovers, besties, and even people they just met in a confined public space? You’ll hear play-by-plays of invasive surgeries, sex fetishes you never dreamed existed (I overheard something about a stapler once that I still suffer PTSD over), and scorned lovers plotting their revenge. Some of it is fascinating, and you’ll find yourself wondering later in the day if that nice lady was finally able to orgasm with the man she’s cheating on her husband with. But most of it will make you feel like sobbing in a cold shower for a week.
2. How baffling it is that some people think their car or the subway is synonymous with “dining room.”
Okay, fine, snacks are a mandatory part of long commutes, if you don’t want to suffer a hangry meltdown. But do not think that peeling your banana is gonna get you out of that ticket when you run a red light and almost hit a pedestrian who’s just trying to get to the damn bus stop. And anything that smells like fish or cumin or cilantro should be banned from any form of transit, and all violators should be subject to arrest—or at least responsible for the dry cleaning bills of those in the same car.
3. What it looks—and feels like— to have to watch someone urinate.
The certainties in life that include death and taxes have been expanded for commuters. It may take years of commuting before a public urination is witnessed (either while riding the train itself or right onto the tracks while waiting for said train), but if you take a train or bus or subway, it’s inevitable—and you’ve braced yourself, so it doesn’t phase you when it happens.
4. Just how dead chivalry is.
You could be holding an entire week’s worth of groceries or you could be so pregnant that you’re practically crowning or you could have a broken leg, and you know what? There are grown-ass men who know better and will not give up their seat for you. But you know what these asshats will do? Avoid eye contact at all costs and manspread just a little more—making it near impossible for you to keep your cool and not punch them right in their “manhood.”
5. How easy it is to start hating kids.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom! You will be horrified by the things you witness children doing on the train. We’re talking spilling Cheerios all over the already filthy, crunchy floor, licking strangers, kicking strangers, biting strangers, and even trying to French kiss strangers. There is no discipline on the train. It’s like Lord of the Flies meets the Bermuda Triangle.
6. What it’s like to have your body parts be squished.
If you’re commuting at the peak of rush hour, then you know that getting a seat is a pipe dream in the same realm as becoming Queen of England. Instead, you’ll be pressed up against perfect strangers with your hands, mouth, and feet touching areas they should never touch without being bought dinner first. You’ll be amazed by your flexibility while wondering just how you’re going to untangle yourself when the doors pop open and everyone tumbles out.
7. The fact that everyone’s deaf.
Because really, what else explains people not GAF when you honk the shit out of them to stop going 25 mph on the highway? Or when you shout “EXCUSE ME!” at the top of your lungs 50 times just so you can get by them on the sidewalk?
8. Your day is 100% determined by the quality of your commute.
Your boss could tell you that you’re getting a raise, but if you’re still reeling from a commute from Hades, you won’t even crack a smile. On the flip side, your boss could take away summer Fridays, and it’s cool, because you encountered no accidents or bottlenecks. Hooray!
9. How nothing can enrage you more than an express train suddenly making All. Local. Stops.
Bonus rage points if it happens when you’re PMSing and want to stab everyone within eyesight as your stop shuffles by.
10. Silently plotting to take out “subway performers.”
It always happens the same way. You’ve just closed your eyes for a quick nap or you’ve just gotten into your book and an “Excuse me ladies and gentlemen!” booms from the center of the car before break dancers, mariachi bands, ventriloquists, or doo-wop singers take over. If you really want to know what it feels like to have your head explode, that would be the morning you have a hangover while an opera singer tries to shatter a glass for tips.
11. Legit looking into the cost of helicopter.
Because after that last commute home that took over three hours thanks to delays, unexpected detours, or muffled announcements, going bankrupt by paying for a chopper is worth it if it means saving your sanity.
12. Being outsmarted by a taxi or Uber.
You think you’re beating the system by treating yourself to an Uber instead of taking the crowded train only to get stuck in traffic like the Apocalypse is coming and the whole world thinks they can drive away from it. As you inch along, knowing your fare is going to be in the triple digits, you wonder if you should just get out and walk (but never do because you’re a glutton for punishment).
13. Wondering when wearing deodorant went out of style.
Because seriously, there are some foul-smelling people in the city. Like you may want to spray some with perfume the way you’d attack a vampire with Holy Water.
14. Getting a little dressed up for your “commute crush.”
You haven’t spied a wedding ring on that hot guy in a suit you see on your way in every morning — and even if you did, dreaming up your torrid affair helps pass the time.
15. Becoming invincible to rain.
Because what the hell is the point of an umbrella that will definitely get banged into by a crush of people, fly out of your hands or turn itself inside out as you make your way down a crowded, wet sidewalk? And your eyes have almost been gouged out by other people wielding their umbrellas around like Captain America’s shield, and you just don’t want to be That Person.
16. Knowing full well that a backup phone charger is necessary AF.
If you’re stuck in a traffic jam and your phone/iPod/only connection to the outside world dies, you’re fucked. And bored. And understand why people end up on the news for road rage. Probably because they were driving with a dead phone and no podcast to keep them from going out of their minds. And how are you expected to get through a train delay without Candy Crush to help get your breathing back to normal?!
17. If you’re on a train, so are headphones.
Because you’ll never make it without your go-to play list or your Netflix app to keep your focus off of the insanity going on around you.
18. There will be moments when a par for the course catcall makes you alol.
After living through the nightmare that is just getting to work, you’re actually not ragey about that beefcake construction worker wanting to know if you “want fries with that shake.” After all, it’s kinda humorous to be found that desirable while wreaking of gas fumes and/or other commuters’ B.O.