With her „MANUal“ the Media- and Communication Management student Manuela Martin shares a new column. She starts with some funny thoughts concerning the daily life of a commuter.

“Don’t stare at me like that!”

Those who commute know it. The situation. The people. But let’s start with the basics. How do you sit in the train compartment? Of course, diagonally across from each other, so everyone has some space, for example to extend one’s legs. That’s only possible until the next two people come to the compartment as the train gets fuller.

But in the everyday life it is totally different. Not all people seem to know this “unspoken law”. A new version happened to me just this morning; a 6’5” person sat right across from me, even though the seat diagonally across me was free too. But that wasn’t the only thing. He also extended his legs in a way that made me feel “trapped” in the compartment. But all that isn’t the real problem. The really strange or even embarrassing thing when sitting right across a total stranger for an hour long train ride, is that you don’t know where to look. Especially when you are sitting on the seat next to the aisle and not next to the window. Because it is simply rude to stare at a person. But when you look at the aisle, sooner or later you will directly stare at the person one or two compartments further away, who is also sitting next to the aisle. So that isn’t an option.

As an alternative, you could look out the window, but if another person sits beside you, they might get the idea that you are staring at them. In the best case scenario, they simply ignores it, but in the worst case scenario, you’ll earn some furious looks.

The ground is something you can stare at, and I promise, it won’t stare back. But the problem with staring at the ground for an hour, is that the other people might think you’re nuts. As you might have guessed, this solution isn’t ideal either.

The easiest solution for people my age (early 20s), is to look at your phone. But most times when you really wish for somebody to text you, it just isn’t the case. Or depending on the route of your train, you may not have internet access during the ride. You also could download some episodes of your favorite TV show before getting on the train. That was a great solution for me – until the person next to me decided to lean over and try to watch the episode with me. Great. Depending on the type and amount of perfume the person may or may not have used, it can be a rather unpleasant situation either way.

Another possibility is to read a book. For people my age it has become a rarity, unfortunately. Sometimes, if I’m not too tired, I’ll read an eBook on my phone. Reading on the phone provides more space in your bag and also nearly guarantees you can carry it with you almost everywhere. Now if you’re thinking of tiny writing, no worries you can set the font to the size you prefer.

Another method, independent of tech and glances is a nap. The only thing you must be careful about is setting an alarm so you don’t miss your stop. 😊

Especially in the mornings a lot of people use this method. One can look at many things, ranging from open mouths to phones slipping out of relaxed hands.

My personal conclusion: the last four options are the ones I use the most, depending on the people around me. In the mornings especially the nap. But, depending on who is sitting across from you – despite it being rude, I think that a little staring can totally be worth it, if you know what I mean. 😊

That’s it for now. I hope you have a great week and happy commuting!