Public transport is rife with things worth judging. Clothing, one-sided phone conversations, the extent of end-of-the-day pit stains. What you’re playing on your iPhone – whether you have an iPhone at all! Personally, I like to look at business-men’s socks and judge them by the prints –the more ridiculous the better. My favourite were black ones with cigarettes on them. With all this judging going on, you’d think that surely people would be aware that they’re being judged by their commuting books. But from what I see people reading, perhaps not.
A friend recently told me that he covers “embarrassing” books with brown paper, in order to not be judged while reading on public transport. I laughed at first, but then realised that there’s certain things I don’t read in public either. By this I don’t just mean that I prefer things that can be consumed comfortably on five-stop trips. I also mean that I refuse to be seen reading any self-help or dieting books on the tram. I won’t be caught with Twilight, or Dan Brown, or a well-thumbed copy of “Eat, Pray, Love”.
Don’t get me wrong – I read bad books. I’m a firm believer in knowing what it is that you hate, and this has meant I’ve read a lot of crap. It helps to know how not to write. Never, never in public though. I read Dan Brown at very private moments, where I could snigger and blurt offensive things, and throw the book at the wall whenever I needed to. I never risked my reputation by taking it on a train, tram or bus. Greasy hair I can do, but if someone saw me wrapped up in YA vampire stories, I’d never forgive myself.
I can delight in the more bizarre – I used to constantly see Alan Brough on the 1 or the 8, reading maths books. I respect this, because not only was I baffled by how smart he is, but also by the fact that he was able to be that smart while rocking around on a tram! Flaunting your intelligence, especially if you’re Alan Brough – winner! Flaunting your stupidity? Not so much.
People of Melbourne, THINK before shoving the latest Stephanie Meyer book in your bag. Please don’t expect me to sit next to you while you wish you could overcome adversity as successfully as the latest Jodi Piccoult heroine. Don’t think I won’t scoff if you’re busy learning exactly how they cracked the Da Vinci Code. If you’re brushing up on foreign affairs a’la “Zoo” I am judging you, and harshly. If you then try to talk to me about what I’m reading, you just can’t – it’s too late. I’m already convinced you’re utterly vapid, totally air-headed. A fool of the highest order.
Not because you’re reading Mills and Boon, but because you have so little self-respect that you did it on public transport.