To That One Commuter With The Backpack

Hey, it’s a little too crowded in this train, isn’t it? Nevertheless, let me make room for you – WHOA, that is some large backpack you’ve got on you. Honestly, there’s not enough room for you and your backpack. I mean, there’s minimal space in here as it is so why not take it off and hold it with your hands?


Maybe if you could just … take it off and put it by your feet, because that would free up a loooooot of space for more people. And make more room for me to move my arms, too.


So you’re just going to leave your backpack as it is? Fine, OK, I’ll just ignore it.

But then the train moves, and can’t you see what’s happening here? Each time the train lurches or stops or when you happen to lose your bearings you slam your ginormous backpack into my person and each time I shove it with my arms, pretending to look away, or pretending to text away on my phone in this already very minimal space, you have the audacity to glare at me for elbowing your grande and precious cargo out of the way.

The train doors open. More people come in. You refuse to move. You stay with your sack.

Dude. Get out of the way. You clearly are ignoring people’s dirty looks and continue adjusting the straps, until someone with enough angst so early in the morning – the one with the “I haven’t had my coffee yet so God help you” kind of attitude” – says, “Excuse me!” in a very strict tone that you are then forced to back up – again without removing your backpack, or taking the slightest of hints – and proceed to shove and slam and thrust other people into each other because of this nerveless extra limb you’re carrying on your back.

Some poor lady had to squeeze with all her might – one would think she was constipated, but no, it’s just because your bloody backpack is in the way – to get out, nearly missing her stop at the last second. Yet, you do not budge.

The best thing you could do right now, after causing so much inconvenience and unease of transport, is to at least move from the damned doorway to let people in and out. But no. You don’t want to do that. You want your beloved backpack to keep spooning you. Yeah, that’s probably offering you some semblance of comfort for having to deal with such a packed commute in the morning, and to head off to work for 9-12 long hours, but at the expense of other people who must deal with this enormous bulk of space-wasting load.

You know what would make it better? If your backpack actually smelled clean. At least there would be that. But no.

Instead it smells like something that has been kept in a damp basement for 20 years and you just happened to want to carry 4 laptops to work in the morning, and you didn’t have any proper containers for it. So, there it is; murky, muddy, moldy and musty backpack for everyone’s breakfast for champions to face the long, taxing day. The aroma just propels one into such a state of wakefulness that … remember how they say you take your nose for granted when it’s blocked? Well, now you want your nose to be blocked. That kind of feeling.

Oh wait, there is also a scent of sweat – coming from your back, I reckon. It’s time to stop spooning, and get the bag off your back, but I’m not entirely sure that that would be a fantastic idea right now, it might make me barf. And worse, you might accidentally hit me in the face with that sweat-laden fabric.

This 15-minute commute now feels like a 50-minute one, thanks to you.

I keep thinking: is this your stop? God, I hope this is your stop. I sometimes forget to pray in the mornings but now, wow. You have inspired me to remember God.

Turns out, it never becomes your stop, because the train is approaching mine. And a station before I alight, I calculate in my head, how much I would have to crouch and bend and stoop just to get past unscathed by your blooming basket.

The time is now. I must say ‘excuse me’ loudly, and then venture out – safe and sound.

But no. It’s as if you know which direction I was going to go for, and you proceed to steer your body towards it, to let other disgruntled people off. I am stuck, between your backpack and the door. And each time someone pushes you aside, you push me back inside.

I’m starting to feel as if I’m never going to make it out.

The smell seeps into my nostrils.
It’s horrible.

The combination of sweat and unwashed cloth is penetrating my skull. It’s triggering something in my throat and stomach.

Still no sign of you moving.

Steady streams of people are now coming in.

I am still stuck inside.

I look around, feeling suffocated. Trapped.

Vision swimming.
Breath heaving.

I remember my family. Daddy. Mummy. My siblings. My dog. He’ll be waiting for me at the end of the day.

I try one last time. I squeeze as hard as I can – past your audible ‘tsk’ and your black body bag.

I step onto the platform.

I’m free, I’m finally free.
I breathe in fresh air – happy to have finally made it out of that train and your backpack.

And then my ecstatic trance and moment of fruitfulness are interrupted.
Someone has knocked into me on the platform, and I stumble.

Someone was racing to get into the coach last minute.
He made it.

And then I glare, because just seconds before the doors close, I see nothing but another damned backpack.

Still on his back.

I hate you.
I hate you all.

1000-word drabble challenge.
*photo courtesy of Gap Year

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About kat.f.c

Kathlyn is the founder, and managing editor of Anything Lah! President of #IceCreamFriday club. Will respond to KFC, nuggets and luncheon meat. She is bad at completing biodata and