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Nonconformity -
a rose by any other name

Now I like a bit of variety - it’s the spice of life. There’s no fun doing the same boring things in the same boring way, day-in day-out. So I should applaud the railway industry for its unending differences.

Take doors - doors on trains, opening and closing doors. If we did not have variety, we would know that the ‘open’ button would always be in the same position and the same colour. Where’s the fun in that?

A small collection of train door buttons, pictures by...
A Magill, Waltarr, Mag3737, Matt, Smiley Geek Girl, Timothy Baldwin

You’re on a train run by a company you don’t normally travel with. It’s your stop. You go to the door where the button is. Is it to the left or the right? Is it on a pole or beside the door? Is it coloured or is it silver? Is the ‘open’ button top or bottom?

You could ask other passengers but they too look bemused. You don’t have time to phone a friend so you plump for 50/50. Hey presto, you might be right or you might have just opened the toilet door, much to the embarrassment of the little old lady who had not realised that she should have pressed another button to lock herself in.
Hey presto, you might be right or you might have just opened the toilet door...

How do you know if a seat is reserved?

For years, this job was fulfilled by a small card planted in the back of the seat. But, with the arrival of the microchip, it was decided that something new was called for. So now, minute electronic screens with cascading messages are set into overhead luggage racks, just out of sight from the average person’s eye level.

When is the end of the coach not the end of the coach? When it’s a vestibule. A quick straw pole amongst passengers on my train found that a large percentage hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. “No change there” you might say! One guy thought I was French; an old couple suggested that I look at the end of the coach near the door where I had got on.

So, for the benefit of those trying to find a fire extinguisher in a hurry, could I suggest that “end of the coach” sounds about right.

Story added 1st July 2009

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