I’m sitting on a sold out train from London to Norwich, and all I can hear are three things:
- the group of guys next to me debating the merits of various smartphones
- a kid screaming until it nearly vomits (oh wait – it just did)
- the kid’s mum
Here are the various things I have learnt about said mother in the first 45 minutes of the journey:
- she is rather ineffective at stopping her kid’s tears
- she’s not actually sure who the father of her child is
- there’s a possibility she has another bun in the oven but she hasn’t bothered to take the test yet as she doesn’t want the stress of knowing
- she tried to leave the man she’s living with last week, but he found out they were staying with a mutual friend and came and got them
- oh, but to be honest, he’s pretty fit and he earns good money, so even though he’s got a nasty temper, she could do worse
- her mum is a meddling so-and-so because she thinks her kid is possibly dyslexic and wants her to go and get him checked out, and who does she think she is anyway?
Yes. You thought right. I am judging.
No, I’m not judging her for her choice in men – let’s face it, we’ve all been there before. Nor am I judging her parental skills – I am definitely not one to cast any dispersions given my childless state. And no, I’m not judging her for the way she dismisses her mothers concerns – at least she has some kind of relationship since they’re obviously speaking.
What I’m judging her for is far less complicated: over-sharing. Because she isn’t on this train talking to a friend. Oh no. I’ve learnt everything I know about her because she’s been telling the two teenagers opposite her. People who literally sprinted onto the train at the last minute and crammed themselves and their overstuffed backpacks into the last remaining seats available.
Strangers. She is telling complete strangers (and everyone within earshot) these intimate details of her life. And you know what they are saying?
They are sitting, completely mute, opposite her. Presumably they must be smiling or nodding occasionally, or else I’m not sure how she could believe that they were receptive to her verbal deluge, but she clearly does not need much encouragement.
In my world, and feel free to judge me if you will, I don’t fancy total strangers knowing things about me that I wouldn’t even tell some of my friends. Maybe that’s a limitation on my part – but I truly believe there are some things that you just don’t need to share with everyone. Or anyone.
So please, next time you see a stranger opposite me launching into their life story, do me a favour? Come rescue me.