Of late, other than the normal discussions about South West Trains crepe service levels, there has been a lot of chatter about the type of people who commute daily. Are you a Nuzzler? Or perhaps a Scumbag?
Akin to one of those quizzes you used to get in Just 17 (if you're a bloke - those things your partner used to make you answer!) below is a list of the types of people we see every day.
Massive thanks to those who contributed to this. If your not already following them, you should!
There should be a set of rules for Twitter, bit like those ones you see at a Swimming Pool. It is perfectly obvious that you shouldn't run around those slimy, tiled floors. Yet there is something innate in every child and even in us boring, ageing farts, that implores us to do so.
No running then, equates to No jumping the gun. A lesson very hard to learn when you're so filled with annoyance at something South West Trains have said/done/under delivered. Maybe you're Mary Poppins (practically perfect in ever way) and never leap before you have looked and have never once had a go without investigating the full facts. Sadly I'm more Dyke. Pun fully intended. I have, on less occasions as time has gone on, jumped in with both size 7's and felt a tad stupid.
No heavy petting, well no, this is a family show, there's no touchy feely business! So instead we have lots of Heavy Vetting. Or think before you speak. It's all well and good being mightily pissed off at South West Trains. They are really rather rubbish. But as much as I (in more sardonic flow) find the 'you c***,' 'die b***' style of feedback amusing, imagine being the poor chap/chapess who has to filter through that! And I know what some of you will be thinking "Yeah but they deserve it". When what they really deserve is to learn about the failings of their service. Comparing them to a certain part of a female's intimate bits, rather dims that.
Well, it's been a fun week on South West Trains. Rather than try and write a blog on all the woes (of which there were many), I thought I'd leave it up to the fabulous and much-missed Leonard Rossiter in his incarnation as Reggie Perrin.
Excuses for train delays into Waterloo, taken from all series of Reginald Perrin:
Eleven minutes late, somebody had stolen the lines at Surbiton
As it would seem likely that you'll be delayed this evening I thought I'd write some handy things to do whilst you wait.
Look out the window. Today I saw two kids on a roof playing tennis. I also saw three people pick their nose and one woman look so enraged I thought steam would come out of her ears, Drop Dead Fred style.
Moan. But make it clean. No one wants a Grace Dent style sacking because they dropped the C Bomb.
Make a new friend. I've tried this several times with varying success. But even the ones who look at you like you're mad are worth engaging, if only to see the look of horror on their face.
Take bets on how delayed you'll be with a fellow passenger. You could be quids in and unlike the Grand National, no competitors will get shot.
Take on some canapés and share with those in your carriage. Perhaps you might even be able to bribe yourself a seat.
Read a book. Plenty of time to kill. I can strongly suggest the new Stephen King book, by the way.
light of too much work and a distinct lack of time, here is a
collage... Keep the pictures coming and I will endeavour to add new ones
as often as poss. Imagine how big this will be by the end of the year.
again for all the blog views (can't quite believe, looking at the
analytics, how many people appear to be looking at it!). I would say
leave a comment, but let's face it, there's enough chatter between us
all on Twitter.
I have always liked the social side of the Internet, ever since I first played Doom online at a (significantly richer) friend's house. And ever since the days of chat rooms and the early message boards, there has been abuse. It seemed alright when it was just us saddo's (I was only interested in chatting about mid 90's Neighbours) who sat there being abused by faceless humans.
But now chat rooms are not just for the indoor types. They're for the outdoor types, the cool types, the mature types and even the Royal types. There is a certain type of rage used by people online. It is harsh and cruel and immediate. Yet, if you met face to face with these humans, they'd, in the main, be perfectly reasonable.
As much as I feel aggrieved by the service of South West Trains and believe me, I do. I'm also painfully aware that running their twitter account, as the WICC do, must be tough. So I don't begrudge them a little nibble at me if I point out things they don't want to hear. When the C bomb has been dropped on you on a daily basis (not by me although I've wanted to), you're going to feel monked off.
So @SW_Trains keep going! When the service is good and you're not spending your day apologising for all the delays, I guarantee the social universe will be more kind.
You know when you discover something completely new to you and then start noticing it everywhere you go? I'm a bit like that with coffee. Having never drunk it before about two months ago (and subsequently becoming a regular one shot latte fan) I now find myself fascinated by the fact that so many people are carrying those polystyrene cups of wake-uppy goodness everywhere they go.
For me, the same could be said for South West Trains. Up until a year ago, my only dalliances with them were on an occasional basis. Whilst I always found cause to moan, it was so infrequent, that I didn't bother to take the time to investigate. Plus I'm not naturally inquisitive, so unless something really motivates me, I cannot be arsed to think about it too deeply.
I've found myself over the past couple of weeks idly googling "South West Trains". There are, it transpires, a hell of a lot of people disgruntled enough to make blogs like this or write articles in newspapers, publish court cases involving SWT, hell, even the government are talking about them right now.
Below is a list of a few of those 'hits' from the first twenty pages of Google... Enjoy!
Turns out the twitter team behind @SW_Trains were also alerted to this. Their initial response was:
Now, maybe I am being naive, but if I were the PR/Marketing rep for a big company like South West Trains, I would read that and think 'God, we must respond to this immediately and we must make sure we investigate properly'.
But no, #SWTrains did not initially alter their behaviour from the every day complaints we make about service.
Read that article again, then read their response. Sickening isn't it?
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote directly to South West Trains. Firstly to the marketing manager (and CC'd in the dear MD, Tim Shoveller) and then secondly, I emailed her exec (and CC'd in the dear MD, Tim Shoveller). Originally I posted it on my blog. Then thought I'd give them a chance to respond and took it down. As I had no reply, I am putting back up the content of the message.
If you haven't time to read all the way through, or your mobile is loading rather slowly (after all, there is no WiFi on South West Trains!), it was a tale about a lady who was being taken to court by #SWTrains for a seemingly minor error (a mistake, rather than a deliberate evasion).
The email is below, should you be curious:
I hope you do not mind me emailing you directly, I just felt, as the the marketing representative for South West Trains, this might interest you.
There are many issues with the trains service that I would love to discuss with you, but will stick with the most pressing matter:
A court summons, recieved by the wife of one of my twitter followers, from the evidence, appears to be completely unjust. It would seem there are a number of holes in the case. For you though I suppose, the potentially bad PR could be damaging as the woman was heavily pregnant at the time, had an Oyster card with money on it, is an American actress (famous enough to be in Vogue) with English husband and the ticket inspector provided a lot of misinformation.
I want to know whether, with your help, we can get this case settled without incident. Firstly, to allow a perfectly decent couple to get on with their lives without something like this hanging over them. Secondly, so that the local press don't get wind of the fact that something with emotive undertones has occurred on your train service, which is already recieving something of a bashing from news and commuters alike.
If you tell me to write in via your site, I'm afraid, I won't. I want help, not an automated form to fill in. Please understand that I don't stand to gain anything through helping with this, but I am determined that a wrong should be righted.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Kind Regards to you on this beautiful Thursday afternoon,
Ah a bit of peace at the end of the week and I'm busy doing, what I'm now referring to as, "my second job": Being @my6percent.
To anyone reading this for the first time, this whole blog is an open vent to South West Trains senior management. I'm no Union leader, or even particularly politically motivated. I am simply someone who has to commute every single weekday, who thought the 6% increase in fares on January 1st, was just a step too far from a company who offer so little.
From the first quarter of the year. Nearly 25% of all my journeys have been either delayed (by 5 minutes or more) or cancelled. Which is quite something, when you think about that in the context of a working week. Every 2 days, there is a delay or cancellation.
Like everyone else I am completely fed up with it. It's stressful enough commuting, without having to worry about being severely delayed every other day.
My father asked me recently what I wanted to achieve by setting @my6percent up. It is simple really. I want South West Trains to stop taking the piss. If my service is bad, you reimburse me properly, don't offer me some token gesture. If I communicate with your twitter account, I expect it to be without sarcasm. If you offer me an opportunity to ask your MD questions online, I expect him to not ignore my questions and offer an honest answer.
To anyone reading this, thank you. It has been great getting to know you all and some of the tweets I get are either really maddening or hilarious. Sometimes both. I will continue to endeavour to spread the word and hopefully one day we can all look back and go "God. Wasn't it so worth NOT accepting that shit service".