Weirdo spotting

“Oh my god you’re from Engerland… Engerland’s a real nice city.” I wanted to correct his error immediately but I refrained. Mostly because we were on a Greyhound bus several hundred miles from a major US city and the man in question looked seriously weird. The kind of weird where engaging in conversation might result in a “girl chopped into bite sized cubes and made into stew” news headline.

It’s not the first time I’ve met an undesirable on public transport. And given that trains and buses seem to be a global attraction for the mentally unhinged, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Here are just a few of the people I have met so far on my travels and advice on how to avoid them.

The OTT drama student

How to spot her:  She’s got the world’s loudest voice and before introducing herself announces that everyone thinks she’s MENTAL.

Why she’s annoying: Like Rachel from Glee on speed, she replaces normal conversation with excited shrieks and bursts into show songs whenever possible. Even if you’re on a cultural excursion to a sacred Thai temple.

How to avoid her: Pretend you don’t speak English and put your headphones in.

The hippy

How to spot him: He hasn’t washed his hair for six weeks and he’s carrying a guitar.

Why he’s annoying: It’s a universally acknowledged fact that only 10% of people who carry guitars are musically gifted. The remaining 90% like to strum incessantly round camp fires, take copious quantities of LSD and talk about the meaning of the universe or how big their hands look on acid.

How to avoid him: Tell him you work for a bank. And that vegans are the most pointless people to ever walk the planet. (Another universally acknowledged fact.)

The mentally unhinged

How to spot her: She’s rocking back and forth, chewing her hair and worrying about the 14 cats she left at home.

Why she’s annoying: It’s impossible to have a logical conversation with her but you don’t want to be mean in case she has some sort of break down.

How to avoid her: Tell her your dog likes to eat cats.

The dullard

How to spot her: She’s dressed in khaki and carrying her bank statements.

Why she’s annoying: She tells you she’s recently fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a data processor and that expensive haircuts are a pointless waste of money. (And tweezers too apparently.)

How to avoid her: Unless you’re on a trip in England it’s unlikely you’ll have to. She’s too busy saving for a house deposit to worry about having fun.

The gap yah student

How to spot him: He’s 21, dressed head to toe in Jack Wills and introduces himself as Crispin.

Why he’s annoying: If the above three points aren’t enough to deter you immediately it’s highly likely he’ll try to shag you. Probably using really horrible chat up lines.

How to avoid him: Tell him you’re SO glad he’s chatting you up because you REALLY want to get married this year.

The over sharer

How to spot her: She appears out of nowhere and flops down next to you with an emotional sigh, oblivious to the fact she’s crushing your hand.

Why she’s annoying: Before you can say “excuse me you’re actually sitting on me”, she’s given you a detailed account of her latest traumatic break up and an entire medical history. Including the story about that weird gynaecological disease she contracted in Fresher’s Week.

How to avoid her: This is a tricky one because the over sharer has almost zero social awareness. If none of the previously mentioned methods work try to ensure something heavy falls on her head. (Make it look like an accident.)

The trendy

How to spot him: He’s wearing skinny jeans and is surgically attached to his iPhone.

Why he’s annoying: He won’t stop banging on about the ‘hashtag totes amaze’ Shoreditch and berating you for listening to commercial music.

How to avoid him: Say: “I don’t want to listen to your vintage indie meets hip hop electro shite.” Then play Britney Spears until he goes away.