Here’s the thing about elbows.  They are of great use, they help us to get dressed, they help us turn a page in a book, they help us raise a glass or two to our mouth.  Very useful indeed.

Here’s the other thing about elbows.  They hurt!  When clumsy people pull their arm back whilst sitting next to you on the train and catch your arm with their bony elbow it hurts.  All elbows are bony but somehow the impact of a stranger’s elbow on your own arm highlights just how hideously bony they are!  Urgh, and when someone else’s elbow cracks into your own… Now that is pain.  Funny bone indeed!

To the idiots who think you’re behaving politely by raising your elbow so as to not hit my arm – please don’t.  Despite causing amusement by watching you flap your arm like you’re doing a chicken impersonation there is nothing else to thank you for.  An elbow flapping centimetres from my face is not something I appreciate.  I have often held up my own hand in readiness to protect my face from these totally unaware people.

However, even more annoying than the occasional violent dig in the arm, or the potential nudge in the face, is the continual tap tap tap of an elbow.

People who merrily tap away at their phone with their fingers whilst their elbow is simultaneously merrily tapping away at your arm are annoying beyond belief.  Do they simply not know that they’re tapping the arm of the poor sod sitting next to them on the train?  Do they not feel the slight resistance of the coat or flesh of that poor sod next to them and that if they can feel the contact then the poor sod can also?  If they have to tap away like excited children then why can’t they either move an extra inch or two away from their train neighbour, or – here’s a novel idea – wait until they get off the train?

This morning on my way to work I was already grumpy because, well, because it was the morning commute and I’d rather have been elsewhere.  I had pinned myself up against the window, grateful that I’d got a window seat on the busy train when a woman squeezed into the seat next to me.  She had to squeeze in because it was a 3 seater.  You know the ones where they are designed for tiny people.  Average size people are fine as long as they have no overhanging shoulders to fit into the space wide enough only for their behind and not wide enough for the upper part of the human body.  So my seat and the outer seat were occupied which left no option for her but to squeeze in.  So far so good.  She had bumped me on her way down to her seat.  So many people seem to need to bump their neighbour on the way down for them to understand where their space actually is.  She had a large bag which she placed neatly on her knees.

Then it began.

She raised her elbow carefully over the top of her bag, about my shoulder height.  She reached into her bag, scrabbled around for 20 seconds or so, located her make-up bag and pulled it out, resting it on top of her big bag.  Instantly my heart sank and I became anxious that some sort of powder and brush would appear with the ever-present possibility of cast-off or spillage.  Fortune favoured the anxious in this instance as she didn’t have powder, but she did have eyeliner pens, mascara, lipstick and a variety of other unidentifiable items of make-up.  She began methodically applying something or other, all the time tap tap tapping on my left arm.  She put that article back in the small bag and extracted another utensil and the tap tap tapping began all over again.

I suffered in silence, apart from the grumpy sideways dirty looks and obvious moving of my own arm to try to get away.  Impossible to get away as there was nowhere else I could physically move to.  After two stops I could bare it no longer so I reached across my own body and rested my right hand onto her right elbow “Can you please stop doing that”  I asked as a statement rather than a question.  She looked incredulous, what crazy person could it be next to her that dared tell her off.  She in turn asked me what I was talking about to which I replied “You are continuously tapping my arm and it’s reeeally irritating” and with that statement I gently tapped her elbow several times to illustrate that although there was no pain there was mental anguish.

She spluttered out “but how can I…what can…I need to…but…” and with that string of incomplete statements she ceased.  She put her small bag back into the big bag and sat the remainder of the journey in silence.  No doubt she cursed the hell out of me to her colleagues, friends and family.  But I had a restful remainder of the journey.  As they say, job done 😀


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