Dear blogging friends, what do a frantic typist and a loud snorer have in common? Nothing, they just happen to have caused me a ridiculous amount of irritability whilst travelling by train for business last week. As I made no attempt to hide such irritability from fellow passengers, I thought of a book I read a few years ago and felt a pang of guilt. The book, titled How to be good by Nick Hornby, explores what it means to be good through a fictional family story. Go ahead and give it a try; it will entertain as well as pose a few questions about what being “good” actually means in modern society.
The frantic typist happened to be a hard working commuter who was simply optimising his time spent on a train to finish off work. Shame about the superhuman force applied to the lap top’s keyboard. “It’s not a typewriter you moron! Swanky MACs don’t operate with ink ribbons and tiny letter glued to mechanical hammers!” I wanted to scream. Noise apart, as a budding writer I felt envious at how easily Mr Frantic Typist was generating sentence after sentence, his concentration uninterrupted for nearly 2 hours. Pang, went my guilt. Good for him that he can work hard on a busy train. I could barely answer a few emails on my Blackberry before falling pray to motion sickness and turning green.
As for the unaware snorer, well, we have all sat next to somebody who has fallen asleep seconds after the train left the platform, and begun to snore very, very loudly. There goes Guilt Pang Number Two. “Can’t you be happy for your tired travelling companion? Or even offer to dab the rivulet of spit trickling out of the corner of his parted lips?” I thought. Clearly not. “He needs a good elbowing between his relaxed ribs, never mind a handkerchief.”
I then remembered my good old grandmother’s words of wisdom: “When you, young lady, are nasty and irritable, it’s just because you lack iron. Anaemia has caused many a broken friendships amongst girls. Take your tablets and smile.”
That memory restored my faith in being, after all, a decent human being. I bought my iron and Vitamin C and forced my jaws to relax and my heart to open up to rail commuters, yes, even the two old trainspotters who flicked through their digital photographs one loud BEEP at a time (for 1000 times) in the QUIET zone, and the two children who laughed aloud at Paddington, the film, uninterruptedly for the duration of the journey, whilst their parents drank wine and proudly smiled at them.
Dear blogging friends, what’s your secret to keep irritability at bay? As always, you can tell me your secrets!