• Anthony Costanzo

The Spinchoon on the Train


I work from home. Yea, it’s as awesome as it sounds. Oh, sorry if that’s not immediately what you thought I’ll wait while you stop lying to yourself…. Done? Cool, let’s move on. Big shock right? The founder of a site which premise lies on the manifesto “people are the worst” found a way to avoid them for the most part on a day to day basis. Now don’t get me wrong. I interact with people daily, mostly over Google Hangout and Slack, but they are intelligent, competent, human beings. They are folks that are way more… evolved… than the sea of morons that I used to wade through on my commute to work in city.


The company I work for is based in DC. While I am a remote employee, I do have to venture to our nation’s capital every now and again #BenBailey. Realistically its about 4–5 times a year that I make the trip down. After a few months working at home I actually start to welcome the expedition. Therein lies my folly. I’m an optimist. In my time away from the monotony of commuting I develop this belief that either: A) People have learned how to exist. or B) I’ll be more patient in dealing with said people, since I’m able to avoid them in large doses for long stretches of time. As it turns out it usually takes just under 30 minutes from the time I walk out the door for that optimism to be crushed by reality. My latest trip was no exception.


I took the train down for the first time. I usually fly but figured I would change it up based on the suggestions and experiences of some coworkers. The train is just under 3 hours and the flight I normally take is about an hour and twenty. Once you factor in how long it takes to sit in traffic, get to the airport early, go through security and wait for the inevitable delay of a small flight, you end up shaving approximately 12 days off your travel time. I’ve got my headphones so I can listen to some podcasts (read: prevent people from approaching me). I’ve obviously got my computer with me so I can work on the trip down (gotta love that work life flexibility). I also have my games packed, for when the train Wi-Fi* inevitably fails as all public Wi-Fi does (More on packing games for your trip at the break). Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m prepared.


I walked you through my arsenal of distractions for the trip so you can see how I have mitigated the unknowns that can make for a shitty journey. At this point there is still one huge wildcard that is unavoidable short of, well, not going. That wildcard is people.


My fiance drove me to the train that morning. This helped me skip the part where everyone pisses me off on the drive there. Plus, I was half asleep so I couldn’t even get annoyed by them while in the passenger seat. We are off to a good start. It took about 25 minutes to get to the train. As you can see we are rapidly approaching the 30 minute threshold for my optimism. After, 3 more minutes I’m standing on the platform where I will catch my train. There is currently an NJT train stopped on my track. One more minute passes, and that is when the announcement was made.


The announcement came with such heavy weight, like a sledgehammer breaking through a wall which represented my positivity. “We are being held at the station until the passenger that assaulted one of our conductor’s leaves or is taken off this train.” I let slip an audible chuckle. In my mind I heard a surly Harrison Ford grumble “get off my train” akin to his famousline from Air Force One(this is how my mind works). But, let’s get back to it. With that one sentence came the onslaught of spinchoons...


The first one to make my blood boil was Neck-Crane Guy. Easily the worst super villain name, however fitting for this spinchoon. He is the one that leans out of the train stretching his neck further than is actually humanly possible, to figure out why his train is not moving anymore. He would know the answer if he was paying attention, but naturally, he wasn’t. So now he is putting on a show that demonstrates exactly how oblivious he is to his surroundings. I am certain this is the same guy that stands on the platform and leans over the track, peering into the distance, in the direction from which the train comes, wondering when its going to arrive, as if knowing 30 seconds sooner to it actually pulling into the station would benefit him in any way. Maybe one day he will lean out at the wrong time… until then… we are stuck with him.


Let’s move on to the second spinchoon to enter the ring: Woe-Is-Me Girl. This is the girl on the platform that keeps letting out disgruntled moans for everyone to hear. She has to wait for this train to leave and her train to arrive and she is the ONLY person who is affected by this delay. She’s going to be 5 minutes late to a meeting with her poor unfortunate co-workers that need to deal with her on a daily basis, so she complains out loud for everyone around her to hear. Maybe, she feels it’s her civic-fuckin-duty to make sure the world knows how miserable she is. Maybe, neck craning is the male spinchoon’s form of peacocking and public bitching is the female spinchoon’s mating call. Unfortunately, it seems that the spinchoons do in fact mate, since our third spinchoon can only be the product of two others.


Now for the spinchoon who served as the catalyst for this mess and my assurance that outlooks A and B from early are a far cry from reality. Our third participant in this parade of ass-hats is none other than the NJT Assailant herself. I must admit I didn’t think anything would come from this delay. I certainly didn’t expect to see the NJT Assailant with my own eyes. Nevertheless, there she was, pulled off the train by two officers as she unleashed a barrage of ghetto trash talk. I was only able to make out a few words but they were 90% profane and enough for me to formulate an opinion on the matter. This woman was wrong. I can say that with full confidence and certainty having not been on the train at the time of the incident. To be clear if you ever say the words “I didn’t do nothing”… then you clearly did. Those words are not a defense, they are LITERALLY a confession. Double check your negatives you trash monster*.


Folks, this all happened in a matter of 5 minutes. Neck-Crane man, Woe-Was-Me Girl, and the NJT Assailant, swooped in and shat all over my optimism. When things finally settled down, the NJT train moved along and my Amtrak ride arrived. I stepped on board and scanned for a seat as I moved down the length of the car. I skipped over a couple pairs of seats where one person was there, but their bag was on the empty seat. I get it, I’m not a new to this. You don’t request the seat with the bag if there are other seats available. Unfortunately this train was pretty full. Other new passengers were getting closer to me from the opposite direction and it was clear: There were no more empty seats.



I need to make sure you understand public transportation seat etiquette before explaining what happens next. First we have the rules for a passenger already in transit:

  1. If you are in a two seater and the vessel still has multiple empty two seaters it is perfectly acceptable to place your belongings on the empty seat next to you.

  2. If you are in a two seater and the vessel has less than 2 fully empty two seaters you are now required to move your belongings off the seat, freeing it up for a future passenger.

Next, we have the rules for the passengers entering the vessel:

  1. If you enter the vessel and notice there are numerous open seats you do not request a seat with someone’s belongings.

  2. If you enter the vessel and notice there are only one or two double seats left, you must make an honest effort to sit there. If those seats are taken before you can get to them you must now stand or request a seat occupied by someone’s belongings.

If you are found in violation of one of the above rules you may be punished by a fine of $500 dollars and a kick in the teeth. If you are found with multiple violations the victim of your crime has the right to push you in front of the next oncoming vessel. The victim/enforcer will not be charged, and will instead be awarded a medal.

Back to the story: When I realized it was time to request one of these seats with a bag on it, part of me was still holding onto the slightest bit of hope. In my head I would say, “Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?”. The passenger in offense of rule number 2 from the in-transit guide above would realize his mistake, apologize, and promptly remove his bag from the seat. To my dismay I was cut off at, “Excuse me, do you mi…”, not with a hasty apology but with a putrid sigh of disgust, an ironic sigh. It was a sigh that would only be acceptable by the victim of an unruly passenger found in extreme violation of in-transit rule 2… you know… me. He took his sweet ass time moving his bag from the seat. When I finally had enough room to sit down he let out another sigh.

That’s when I killed him your honor.

*It’s pronounced “wiffie”

*This was not meant as a slight against Oscar. He’s had a rough life and deserves nothing but our respect.


#Travel #ShortStory #Comedy #Commuting

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