15 February 2012

6 Things To Do On A MetroRail Train Ride

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a while now. For those of you who are familiar with the comfort and convenience (and smell) of taking a MetroRail train, this will strike a particular chord within your poor, poor soul. Without further ado:

1. Beggar Chicken: Although not strictly an activity for when you’re on the train, this game can be a lot of fun while on your way to the station. And when I say ‘a lot of fun’, I mean extremely infuriating.

Observe the following diagram:

Game Rules:
Try make it inside the station and to your platform without being approached by a beggar. If you manage to make it inside without a single encounter, bonus points to you. If you give in and hand out your money, you lose. Hard.

Here are a few tips to help you master the game – NAY, art – of beggar dodging. 
  • Don’t make eye contact.
  • Don’t carry anything that may lead the beggar army to think you possess money on your body i.e. Keep your phone hidden, don’t carry a bag, avoid shoes.
  • If possible, rip all of your clothes before attempting to cross the courtyard.
  • Be invisible. 

2. Buy Socks: Cape Town station is, without a doubt, the leading socks retailer in the country - with over a thousand hawkers offering the finest wears for your inner shoe needs. At just under R2.00 a pair, buying socks at the station will leave you with just enough money in your wallet to afford the industrial cleaner you’ll require to ensure you don’t pick up any bacterial/viral/fungal infections.

3. Platform Hopping: Whether you like it or not, if you take the train to or from Cape Town, sooner or later you’re going to take part in a game of Platform Hopping. This game – misleadingly named – is kind of like a hybrid of the 100-meter sprint and shopping during the Christmas season.

Game Rules:
At any stage during your train station experience, the intercom at the station is liable to change your regular train to depart from another platform. When this happens, you must run as fast as you can – without being trampled – to the corresponding platform in time to NOT get cut in half by the automated doors.

They say prevention is the best cure. Or do they? I can’t remember. Anyway, try to anticipate the platform hop before it becomes apparent to your fellow racers. Look for signs like your regular train’s lights being off. Take note of whether or not the driver is in his station. These are usually sure signs that your regular train is fucked, and that MetroRail are planning a last minute Platform Hop Match.
  • Wear running shoes.
  • Run directly behind the slightly larger women in order to increase aerodynamics – but remember to veer off before reaching your target. You might end up having to sit next to/under them once on the train.
4. Sleep: Sleeping is – by far – the most popular on-train activity. This may be due to a number of reasons. Maybe it’s the steady rhythm of the tracks underneath your feet that puts your brain into a natural groove and incites vivid dreams of street crime and Nik Naks.

Note: picture may appear better than reality.
You may think ‘I’ve been doing the sleep thing my entire life – I don’t need tips on how to doze’ but you are WRONG. You need these tips. 
  • Train yourself to awaken at every stop, even if it’s only a half open eye to see where you are. Trust me, waking up to find yourself in Wellington Station at 21:00 is not fun.
  • Sleep with an iron grip on your belongings. Bitches be stealing.
  • Wear sunglasses so other passengers can’t tell if you’re awake or not. This is useful to deter potential criminals. 

5. Troll: When on the train, you’ll experience a number of occasions that are pure trolling gold. A good example is the overly religious preacher that frequents the train in the early mornings. This guy loves Jesus, but he loves shouting about it even more. And I don’t know about you, but 7am is not exactly ideal for being on the receiving end of a screaming preacher. Get your troll on.

6. Play Train Drums: This is an activity I engage in quite often. Because the train creates a steady rhythm as it moves between stations, it lends itself out as the perfect jamming buddy. Try incorporating syncopated grooves with the train’s constant ‘chug ku-chung’ variation. For the advanced Train Drummers, try a different rhythm at every successive station. This will greatly improve your endurance and creativity – as well as piss off your entire carriage.

At the end of the day, what matters is that you reach your destination on time and in one piece. Coincidentally, when this does happen, it’s usually the end of the day already. But having fun is contagious; spread this post with your train friends and let's all make light of the extremely half-assed public transportation service we endure on a daily basis.

Got any train games of your own? Leave them in the comments section below and I’ll include them in the next edition.


  1. Anonymous17:35

    count yourself your lucky enough not to be someone who has to beg... funnyman.

  2. Indeed I do. Thanks for the comment Buzz Killington ;)

  3. Anonymous10:13

    More games/tasks:

    Olfactory strengthening: whether it's from the 7am dronkie, random under-the-seat turd, or late afternoon gebou-armpit to the face, the train is a good place to strengthen (or destroy) your smelling senses.

    Side note: with time the bergie problem tends to go away once you can recognise them and they you.

    @Buzz Killington McNojoy: if you've ever been to CPT station, you'll see that some of them are clearly meth heads/tik koppe others just reek of booze. Sometimes it's more of Jedi decision (if you haven't played KOTOR, then haaties, go google the reference). And you'll see the same people with different stories about how they're stuck here and need bus/train/taxi fare to different places.....hmmmm, maybe we can turn this into a game.

    Spot the repost: each time a bergie/dronkie/tik kop comes to you with a long story you've heard before, you shout "REPOST!!" and then downvote them.

    there's a few more I can think of but don't have time to type

  4. Awesome! Those are definitely going on the next post, along with Between-Carriage Smoking and Playing Cellphone Music Really Loud.


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