Following on Wednesday's post, we take another look at the everyday politics of commuter trains. Things get serious when trying to find a seat on the London Overground at rush hour--so much so that Brendan Nelson compares it to war.

[caption id="attachment_1842" align="aligncenter" width="538"]Brendan Nelson classifies train commuters into three types and gives thorough advice for this "theater of conflict" Brendan Nelson classifies train commuters into three types and gives thorough advice for this "theater of conflict"[/caption]

Here's a summary of Brendan's advice:

Know your enemies. Train passengers come in several forms:

  • Aspirants – People standing who want to sit down. This includes you.
  • Civilians – People standing who don’t want to sit down, maybe because they’re not going far.
  • Occupants – People currently sitting down. Don’t be fooled though: they’re still in the game.

Don't take the wrong turn.

When you first get on the train you might turn towards the divide in between two carriages. Don’t! This is an unforgiving quagmire. Much like Napoleon in Russia, your campaign will come to a crushing, drawn-out end if you venture here.

Get in position--but act casual.

Get yourself into the long aisle, where the seats are most abundant. This is the fertile valley of the Overground carriage.

But don’t push past people to get here. Try to act casual, like you don’t really want to sit down anyway. As Sun Tzu said, “All warfare is based on deception“. Seem too predatory and you’ll raise the suspicions of other Aspirants, losing the element of surprise. Let them think you’re a disinterested Civilian.

Other bits of Ian Fleming-worthy advice include:

  • Have the seat occupants only just sat down? If so it might be a while before they get off.
  • Can you guess where their occupants might be heading to? For example you can spot BBC people easily (branded building passes, reading Ariel, cooking up ways to irritate the Daily Mail). They’re going all the way to Shepherd’s Bush, so find a new spot.
  • Who else lurks in the same area? If there are pregnant or infirm Aspirants you should move elsewhere – unless, of course, the Overground has completely erased your sense of ethics.
  • Are the Occupants checking the station name or folding up their newspaper? If so then they may be close to departure.

Brendan then goes into highly detailed description of the end game--again with excellent graphics. The comments section of his post also has some interesting advice from other commuters who share their "tactics." His original post is well worth your time if you have enjoyed this so far.