Trains – by Karen

8 Dec

I grew up without much access to a car. We had a car, but my mum couldn’t drive it, and my dad wouldn’t drive it. Unless he wanted to go somewhere. Which was rare.

I spent a lot of time on trains, and I can’t say I’m quite as rosy on them as the rest of you. Here are my top three train moments:

3. Board a train, on the way to craft club. There is a completely empty three-seater chair, except that the man opposite has his feet on it. I walk towards the chair. The man moves his legs down, grunting and gasping. Then he stands up, calls me a stupid ugly fucking lesbian (!) and proceeds to pace around the carriage muttering and swearing.

2. Board a train at Parramatta station (foreboding sound effect). There is a man sitting opposite me but one seat back. I can feel him looking at me. I turn around to give one of my well-worn don’t stare at me stares. Something makes me turn my head back without making eye contact. I process my peripheral vision. What had I seen? He was wearing those tracksuit pants which for some reason you can unbutton at the sides. He was reaching into a sports bag. He was pumping lotion from the sports bag into his hand. What? I glanced again. He was JERKING OFF. ON THE TRAIN. 

I wasn’t equipped to deal with the situation and I just changed carriages or something to allow the requisite mental processing to take place. Afterwards, I vowed that next time I would get up and call a guard. 

3. Sitting on the train. I have that creepy feeling again. ANOTHER man is jerking off on the public train. I get up, determined to go to the guard and call the asshole out. The carriage is one of those old ones that doesn’t connect to anything. I sit in the entranceway chairs, fuming.

Blue light carriages are an excellent service, and I’m sure that none of the masturbation exposures would have occurred in one of those. But my point (if I have one) is that the very publicness of public transport means you are subject to all the fucktards of the world, which I don’t welcome. Hell, I can hardly even stand going to the movies, because of people talking and OPENING FUCKING LAPTOPS and answering their phones and discussing the movie stupidly afterwards. I’m just not that tolerant a person. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not trains I dislike, it’s passengers.


8 Responses to “Trains – by Karen”

  1. Beth December 8, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Wow. That’s gross. I too had many sexual harassment moments on public transport growing up. I was more of a bus girl, living on the north shore so trains were a rarity and I did think they were kind of gross. But never a jerk off. In high school I would regularly have Indian men chatting me up (me being blonde?), or crazy people latching onto me, and I remember a particular incident of a mentally disabled guy following me home telling me he wanted to have sex with me.

    It wasn’t until I moved to the inner west that I started going on trains all the time and haven’t had a single yucko moment on a train for 10 years. I guess it’s about the times of day you’re travelling maybe? And also when you’re a young woman you seem to have a big “pick me” sticker on your forehead for pervs/psychos/saddos. Catching a train with a young child is mostly a total joy. Young men in particular go out of their way to have a laugh with Leo.

    Good on you for balancing out the rose coloured though! Tabs’ story of her and Joe putting their feet up (on a bag!) on a Mountains train and getting fined also springs to mind. The injustice!

  2. Karen December 8, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    It’s true, buses go under some anonymity/ease of escape threshold that makes them much less seedy.

    And I am glad that being older and more maternal makes it all better 😉 Community interactions are better all around with a kid I reckon. Sort of gives people a script to follow, and a focal point.

    • Karen December 9, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      omg, I just realised I numbered those: 2, 3, 2. That wasn’t intentional, but I think I”ll leave it in 🙂

  3. Tabitha December 9, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Isn’t it awful how men pick on young women? No-one would dare pick on me now. I must give off scary librarian vibes. Now you’ve got me thinking about it though, my youth is studded with examples of being insulted or intimidated on trains or train stations. But, like you say, I think this is not really the fault of trains.

    And as for that fine for putting our feet on… our bags, well, we totally didn’t have to pay it in the end, and I’m forever grateful for receiving that fine in the mail, addressed to: Titanium Craven. That’s me, Titanium Craven.

    • Karen December 9, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      Are you serious!!! Titanium Craven!? How could that even have come about?

      • Tabitha December 9, 2011 at 7:36 am #

        That comes about when the kind of transit officer who gives you a fine for putting your feet on your bag copies your name down from your drivers’ license.

      • Karen December 9, 2011 at 7:38 am #


  4. Justyna December 10, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Karen I laughed out loud whilst reading this. The grossness just too comical.

    Funny how I caught trains every day of my life since I was twelve, from the Druitt to Penners to school and then all over the city and never experienced any jerk offs. Feel a bit cheated. I also caught the train every Saturday from Druitt to Ashfield on my own since Year 4 (both my parents worked on Saturdays) to Polish school, and no one ever wanted to molest or steal me. I had to change at Strathfield and already then I recall having this rush-hour face on and no nonsense look that said stay away from this kid.

    There was this one crazy guy who recited the whole train timetable to me once and then gave me a kiss on the top of my head and asked if I would be his girlfriend. The train was packed, I had nowhere to run, so politely said “no thank you”.

    But the one jerk off story I have does involve a BUS! I caught the bus with my cousin from Bondi beach back to Central. All of a sudden all the passengers rushed to one side of the bus and glued themselves to the window. Being sheep, Nat and I did so too. To our amusement there was a dude in his car that had stopped at a red light alongside the bus and was having his jollies in peak-hour traffic. How I laughed! One hand on the wheel and one on his exposed penis. Women applying their lipstick whilst driving can go and be ashamed at their lack of skills.

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