Sherborne. The young man’s elbow met my ribs. He was already seated on the overcrowded post – Christmas West Country train. The seat next to him was the only vacant one in the carriage. I sat down beside him. His body language spoke volumes -he didn’t want company.
‘Phew’and ‘Ow’! My rib winced as he presented a dagger sharp elbow that met my rib cage full on. We headed for open country. No hint of Christmas spirit here. He seemed intent on commandeering his space and occupying the complete arm rest.
Salisbury. Plans for ‘space invasion’ of my seat were advancing and, as his arm pushed mine sideways, he began to spread his legs too.
What a wally. This grandma can (if she wants) engage with games like these. From years of experience – getting to the front of queues at railway stations in China, dealing with arm rest hoggers on long haul flights – I know that a series of deft moves can lull ‘space cadets’ into a sense of false security. With sharpened elbows hidden inside soft garments the tactic is to slightly lean forward, often on to a table, and allow the aggressor to take up the space. Then, as they relax to turn the page of their book or flip a channel there is often an opportunity to move backwards and combine this with a gentle up and under arm reflex. This method allows you to gently claim the back portion of the arm rest and from then on it’s easy to reclaim more lost ground.
I thought long and hard. Silly boy. Must have had a bad Christmas or maybe he was having trouble with his personal life. Or maybe he was just a selfish little prick.
Andover. A decision. Instead of games or confict I’d look for resolution. I half turned, looked directly at him and asked gently “Do you have a problem with the arm rest ?” “Why” he retorted “Do you want it ? ” I smiled, warmly but briefly, and answered ” No, I thought perhaps we could just share it “.
His arm withered, his elbow withdrew. The space suddenly was more comfortable. He settled back comfortably into his own seat. I settled into mine.
Basingstoke. He politely asked to exit his window seat and scurried off taking his space with him.
The replacement passenger was large, jolly and full of ‘bon homie’. Our elbows hardly touched as we headed in our crowded carriage for Waterloo. Who would think that being given the elbow on a crowded train would provide such spacious food for thought.