Grow Exeter | Sep 17, 2018 | 0
The Adventures of Alan ‘Classic Commuter’ – Part.1
Written by Alan Hancock, Photography by Lucy Davies
Picture the scene.
I’m running. I’ve got seven minutes before the train departs. It’s going to go down to the wire. “I’ll just reply to these e-mails and then I’ll be off” is a phrase my brain parrots to me mockingly. I’m seriously at risk of missing Friday night fajitas.
I’m striding out a respectable speed. As I approach the station I clock another besuited commuter clad in North face puffer jacket, a nice weather resistant rucksack, Cuban heels rapidly clip clopping and an aerodynamic baldness that makes me want to shave my head. It becomes clear our paths are entwined. We give each other a knowing, sideways glance. We spent too long in the office and we’re after the same train.
Somehow, we’re going to have to weave through the human treacle of St Davids rush hour and this is no time for competition. We form an unspoken yet unshakeable alliance.
We’re fortunate, it’s a Friday evening, the ticket barriers are open and he’s ahead carving out a path like an absolute beast; like Mo Farah bossing the field on a charity fun run. He’s easily fifteen years older than me and this isn’t the first make or break train dash he’s ever made. Looking at him, there’s no doubt he does extra curricular activities. Perhaps badminton, maybe squash but from the way he burst through those dawdling students I’d definitely say Sunday Rugby.
He darts through people like a startled gazelle flushed from the long grass and I follow like the Cheetah that hunts him. We run, shoulder to shoulder like the Brownlee brothers, feeding off each other’s energy surging towards our goal. We know doors close forty seconds prior to departure and we’re getting perilously close.
There sits the train, it’s packed, the conductor hangs out of the only open door, clearing for departure.
Only one of us is getting on.
And that’s when I do it.
I switch on the afterburners and absolutely rinse him for pace. I see the promise of of a crammed vestibule and the hope of a crouching spot beside the toilet and I’ve got fire in my footsteps, I’m the DeLorean reaching 88, I’m on my toes, full stride and I’ve left him for dead. I can’t wait another half an hour, there’s sizzling chicken at home with my name on it. I blaze past him, all sense of honour and brotherhood kicked up in my wake. I should have passed him a knife and fork because he was eating my dust.
The train was mine.
I jump on under the arm of the conductor as the platform guardian raises that ping pong bat thing and blows his whistle. The doors beep rapidly and close as my bald, seven minute friend presses his sweaty nose up against the window.
He looks at me. I look at him and grin, the fire of betrayal burning in his eyes.
As the train pulls away, I see him turn, dejected and hurt towards Starbucks. I know. I’ve been there. He’s going to get his laptop out and go back to work whilst I go home for Mexican style chicken and cold beer.
Tune in for part 2 of the adventures of Alan in the coming weeks!