Let’s get one thing straight: you should always avoid standard public transportation. Get a car, ride a bike, use your actual human walking legs, I’d even grudgingly allow you to set foot on a bus, for god’s sake, but whatever you do, just make your way to your destination without having to set foot on a train. So fraught with danger and unpleasant tension are they, that if one is foolish, or desperate, enough to utilise them, they must take the most precise and delicate of precautions to remain anonymous, lest you breathe at someone the wrong way and have your peaceful carriage become the setting for a reenactment of the shoot out scene in Leonardo DiCaprio’s mansion from the movie Django Unchained.

Precaution One: Appearance

This is crucial. The second you set foot on that train, everyone’s eyes will be fixed on you, even if you can’t tell. It is imperative that you make it through their ocular scanners without setting off any initial alarms. Failing this, they’ll stare at you for, literally, the entire journey, just waiting for you to cough, blink, sneeze, or (heaven forbid) make eye contact with them, so that they can ask you the most unanswerable of questions, ‘What are you looking at?’, before going absolutely ape-shit, and stabbing everyone in a fourteen mile radius.

Now, on the list of things to avoid, we’ve got: nice coats, cool scarves, matching shoes, jeans without holes, and shirts that lack visible sweat patches. Try to replace them with dirty sweatpants, garish gold jewellery (fake, of course), and shoes that look like they’ve been donated to you from a starving Ugandan.

The hair is important too, but it’s a delicate balance. For example, if you happen to use hair products, gel or mousse or whatever, then you must avoid using the correct amount. If you normally use a tiny bit, use none; and if you normally use quite a lot, use loads. You want to look like you either have the ratty bush of a long-dead scarecrow, or the greasy mop of a… well… a mop that’s been used to clean up a spillage of grease. Chewing gum is also mandatory, as is chewing it with a wide open mouth and a slight ‘clicking’ sound.

Precaution Two: Hygiene

Try to plan your train/subway/underground trips up to a week or two ahead of the journey date so that you can begin not showering in preparation. If you set foot in there smelling like anything nicer than burnt vomit, there may be trouble. Most train occupants, subway especially, stink. By you not smelling terrible, you’re highlighting the fact that they smell terrible. In essence, you’re telling them that they stink, practically yelling it in their dirty, smelly faces. Avoid this, if possible.

We’ve mentioned the greasy hair and the sweat-marked shirts, but I need to smell what I’m seeing too, so make it legitimate. I want the air immediately surrounding you to be at least four degrees hotter than the general atmosphere. If you don’t fancy cleaning your armpits with roadkill blood, or shampooing your hair by wringing out a cloth used to wipe up some putrid guttering, the alternative is to go too far in the opposite direction. What’s the worst antiperspirant you own? Surely there was some odour faux pas from your teen years? We all know you have some Lynx/Axe body spray around here somewhere. I want you to douse yourself in it so thickly and densely that when you try to move your arms, I can see friction sparks igniting the air.

Precaution Three: Noise

We’ve established that your ambient backdrop has to be the emphatic clicking of chewing gum mastication. Layered on top of this, you’re, of course, going to need some awful drum and bass music. Tinnitus seems to be the ‘in thing’ these days, so I want you blare it out at such an obscene volume that I can hear the lead singer audibly blinking amongst the tinny rattles that leak from your shoddy earphones. If this starts to hurt your head a little, just drape them around your neck instead, and triple the volume. When people three towns over can discern the lyrics, you know you’ve nailed it.

Talking to yourself is pretty handy too; or failing that, talking to everyone around you. Throw out some insults, mention things that annoy you to no one in particular, or regale people in whatever your favourite moment was from a recent sporting fixture (it’s okay, just ask google if you need help). I know this may seem counter productive to your efforts to remain nondescript, but it ironically helps you to fit in by acting like a massive douchebag. What better disguise in a circus, than a clown?

Precaution Four: General Demeanour

This one is pretty easy. Like the noble lyrebird, or a patient stick insect, one must simply try to emulate their surroundings; behave in a manner befitting that of someone who takes the train or rides the subway. The big secret is that it’s probably what all of the other passengers are doing as well. The skin head pissing in the corner works at Goldman Sachs, and the guy who just knocked a twelve year old girl unconscious in the back of the carriage is on the board of education; that face tattoo is a sticker, and that bag of cocaine is just crushed up breath mints.

When resorting to standard public transport, all anyone wants to do is reach their destination with little to no knife wounds; and to do this, disguises need to be maintained, and facades presented.

Don’t be caught out.

Stay dirty. Stay smelly. Stay safe.

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About Felix O'Shea

Felix is a guy who isn't actually a writer, but calls himself one when he wants to try to impress gullible people.


A few of my better posts, Articles I've written professionally


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