It is early afternoon and I am sitting on the train on the way home from work. I have just said something I regret to an attractive family of 4 sitting diagonally opposite me around a table. The dad asked me if I minded if they sat there and I said “No, it’s fine, I love kids”. But I didn’t say it as you just read it. Oh no. For …
“Nuuuuuu!!, it’s fiiiiine, I looooooove Keeeds!”
I didn’t meant to, obvs. It just came out. The dad looked a bit shocked and I tried to smile my way out of the situation. They sat there anyway so I think I got away with it.
They are discussing their day out in London and being generally charming. They are free to talk because I now have my earphones in, although I am not listening to anything. It’s an old trick that stops people talking to me on trains. I notice that the mother is deaf. Her communication has been based on easy laughter, which is a little loud, and a lot of pointing at the West End Theatre Programme they have all been looking at. The dad is signing to her to clarify something but she can obviously lip-read. The dad gets up and moves all the way down the carriage to use the toilet.
As soon as he’s gone the children transform. Disguising their mouths with their hands they start to swear. The angelic daughter cups her hands over her mouth and says quite clearly “SMELLY SHIT”. Totally unaware, the mother continues reading the programme. The son is now looking down at the table and chanting “BASTARD, BALLS, BASTARD BALLS”, his sister is giggling. The mother is still totally unaware. It strikes me that these kids must do this a lot, they are well practiced in covering their mouths naturally or looking away from their mother’s eyes. I am suddenly angry. The mum deserves better, certainly much better than to be mocked by her own children. But how best to approach this? If I tell them off then they could deny everything and I would look weird. They already think I am a bit weird. I decide to get up and wait for the Dad outside the toilets, I’ll tell him. Yeah, he can deal with them in his own way, without embarrassing the mother. She would probably be mortified if she knew what was happening. This is a good plan.
I move down the train and wait for the Dad outside the toilet door. I suddenly realise that this might look a bit weird so I move away from the door. I am a little nervous about what I’m going to say but I know that the Dad will thank me for telling him. The main thing is to not make this weird. A woman approaches from the other end of the carriage and stops outside the toilet. I don’t want her to think I am in the queue so I say “I don’t actually want the toilet, I’m just waiting for someone”. I say this quite loudly and smile so she knows I’m not weird or anything. She looks a little shocked at this statement and I back slowly away from her towards the toilet door. I sound like a fucking mental. What is wrong with me? She moves away and sits down. The toilet door opens behind me. The dad is also a little shocked to find me right outside the toilet and tries to move past me. I put my hand out to stop him.
“Can I just tell you something about your kids” I whisper. I have honestly never sounded creepier. The dad looks confused and suddenly defensive “What about MY kids?” he says loudly. God, this is going badly I think. You sound like a crazy man.
“Well,” I continue whispering “they are being a bit rude” and then he’s pushing past me and shouting at his kids “What have you done huh?” I follow him back and he is standing over them. The mother looks panicked, her pretty eyes are wide with confusion. “This man says you’re being naughty? What have you done?” He is livid. This has not gone well. I am so unbelievably embarrassed at this point that I merely follow him back, hoping the children will confess to their father. They don’t. The dad turns to me “What did they do?” he asks. The children suddenly look so young and innocent and the mum so worried, that I genuinely hate myself.
“Oh nothing really” I say, packing up my stuff and hurrying away.
You really do get some weird people on the train.