01 September 2007

Destination somewhere

"spurt out of the can like a fireman's water cannon......who had been deluged by my 1 and 2p coins!

I was recently lent a book by a work colleague (David) called "Who moved my blackberry?" It's a humourous novel about a high powered marketing executive who communicates almost exclusively via email and text messaging. The book itself only reveals the electronic messages sent out by this executive, but you are able to work out quite easily what the other party has said.

Even though I am only half way through this novel it's a really enjoyable read. It also reveals how dependant we are all becoming on technology, possibly which may be leading to the demise of face to face communication.

This book got me thinking about how much has changed from a technological perspective from when I first started out in the work force to now.

Many moons ago I used to work in London for what was then called a merchant bank. Typically nowadays they are called investment banks. I remember I used to catch a train from the tropical south east of England (Chatham in Kent) to the vast metropolis that is called London. Somehow the much maligned British Rail trains got us to our destination generally on time, every day. Obviously BR could perform miracles on a regular basis.

Virtually all our trips up to the 'big smoke' consisted of my friends and I having great conversations and on occassions playing cards. To be truthful, I am not a card player so I would normally just watch my friends play when this was happening. On occasions we would also have 'mini parties' on the journey up to London.

There was one Christmas Eve when a few of us thought it would be a good idea to have a can of guinness on the way to work. This seemed a great idea at the time but it didn't turn out that way.

As the train left Chatham we cracked open the cans only to see the beer spurt out of the can like a fireman's water cannon all over the unlucky passengers sitting opposite us! Fortunately, the two passengers in question were asleep and we didn't have the courage to tell them what had happened. Even now I imagine that they must have got to work only to be ribbed by their colleagues about how much they reeked of alcohol so early in the day! For the record we did finish drinking the guinness.

There was another occassion when I was catching a train home from Cannon Street (London) to Chatham. It was summer so I put my jacket in the rack above my head. As I did that, my loose change fell out of my pockets and rained down over the lady sitting next to me. I didn't know what to say except "erm, you can keep the change". A few weeks later another train buddy of mine wanted me to meet a friend of his. It was, of course, the lady who had been deluged by my 1 and 2p coins! You can imagine then what our first topic of conversation was after being introduced to each other.

I do also remember a really cold snowy day when the train doors froze. In fact there was frost on the inside of the carriage as well as on the outside. When the train stopped at Chatham I couldn't open the door. It was frozen solid. So I had to push down the door window and virtually dive through it and onto the platform. Nowadays the windows on carriage doors are immovable. But back in the old days you could open them.

Contrast the social activities from them to now. What has changed? I hear you ask. Well quite a lot really.

Nowadays, we all get onto a train and put on our MP3 players and listen to the latest music from artists such as Jay Z, Metallica, Shakira (hi Rachel!), Linkin Park or an oldie like David Bowie. We do not think about talking to our co-passengers as we really can't be bothered. If someone starts talking to you the first impression you have is that they must be a lunatic from the outer reaches of some obscure part of Australia.

Becoming more frequent are passengers who get out their latest portable dvd player, plug in their headphones and become engrossed as Bruce Willis saves the world....again. Other passengers seem to be totally obsessed with the latest puzzle craze su-doku. While others are reading what Harry Potter is up to in the last instalment by JK Rowling. Some others are reading the trash magazines to find out what Brad, Angelina, Tom, Katie and others are up to. Also, unlike yesteryear hardly anyone smiles nowadays.

Having said all this and mentioned how 'insular' us passengers are becoming there is one thing that has not changed for as long as I can remember. I still see the 'accountant' type passenger - you know the ones I am referring to. They wear a bland coloured suit and have their hair still styled like they did when they were ten years old. They always invariably carry a briefcase and it will have inside it an apple, a notebook with a blue biro attached to it, cheese and tomato sandwiches on white bread and a small box of paper clips.

The only thing I cannot workout is why they need to carry the paper clips in their briefcase! One day I'll work it out.

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