Missing Your Commute? Get Your Fill of Strange, Antisocial Commuters With These Photos

By Sarah Noe
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Photo Courtesy: Wallpaper Flare

For many commuters, public transport is a necessary evil. Sure, the sights and sounds might not be pleasant, but it's faster and less expensive than owning a car. Besides, there are plenty of ways to avoid eye contact, small talk and other social pet peeves while riding public transportation.

Some unlucky passengers, though, just can’t avoid the bizarre antics of their fellow travelers — fellow travelers who’ve figured out some unique, hilarious and potentially gross ways of getting others to leave them alone. Check out these laugh-out-loud photos of commuters who've learned how to avoid social contact and stand out in special ways.

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The Picker

Ah, the joys of public transportation. Recycled air, unavoidable body odors and an absolute lack of privacy. This unwitting commuter decided to scratch his nose a little more deeply than is publicly appropriate. Hopefully he used some hand sanitizer before touching any poles or handrails after this.

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Photo Courtesy: Funny Vines/YouTube

Still, on a positive note, this antisocial commuter is an excellent multitasker. He's reading, listening to music, holding his dinner and taking care of some nasal business. In the city that never sleeps, it's important to take advantage of every free moment, and this commuter is a pro at that.

The Lonesome Alien

When you're a short, sarcastic alien lifeform, it can be challenging to come up in the world and make a positive impact. This seemingly candid snapshot of late-’80s sitcom sensation ALF looks like a still from a "where are they now" documentary.

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Photo Courtesy: Star Channel/YouTube

The hairy alien's button-up shirt, tie and social distancing say it all: Life after 1990 has been rough. But the things that have happened in ALF's life since the end of his TV show — the events that led to the moment captured in this image — would make an excellent Netflix Original series.

Well, That’s Awkward

It's hard to imagine that anyone could be unaware enough to whip this self-help book out on the NYC Subway. It had to be a funny joke, right? Still, the absolute awkwardness of this book title is sure to keep any commuter from finding love on the morning train.

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Photo Courtesy: BossDT/YouTube

It's more than a little off-putting to see someone preparing to ask random women out on the F train by reading a published book about it. It might be best to leave it at that.

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Pick Your Poison

The only real winner in this photo is the colorful confetti-patterned seating. Sure, the grinning tourist got a free memorable photo while riding the U-Bahn through Berlin. But the guy in the black jacket looks like he's moments away from suddenly tossing his cookies.

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Photo Courtesy: badjonni/Flickr

Unlike photos of the Brandenburg Gate or the East Side Gallery, this unforgettable moment from Berlin probably won't impress many friends and family members. It also begs the question: Is this guy asleep, drunk or just pretending he has some privacy? The world may never know.

Workout Cram

A long bus or train ride can turn into a dull, uncomfortable prison sentence. Outside of reading or scrolling through social media, there's often not a lot to do while waiting to reach your destination. This commuter decided to make the most of their travel time by getting in a few pull-ups.

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Photo Courtesy: Funny Vines/YouTube

While it's relatively dangerous to put so much trust in an overhead baggage rack, it's also safe to say that it's probably equally dangerous to mess with this capable commuter. Sure, they may look sweet on the surface, but their fast-paced pull-ups told other passengers a different story.

Very Personal Grooming

Running with scissors is undoubtedly dangerous, but what this traveler has decided to do with scissors is far more hazardous. Not only is nose-hair trimming generally frowned upon while riding public transportation, but any sudden movement could spell disaster for this commuter. Fellow passengers were likely caught somewhere between respect and disappointment while watching the endless snipping and clipping.

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Photo Courtesy: New York secrets/YouTube

Hopefully, this commuter arrived at the destination looking fresher than a million-dollar bill. Otherwise, this utterly awkward nose grooming was all for nothing — except for maybe entertaining and shocking fellow public transport riders, of course.

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Tickling the Ivories

It can feel like the worst day ever when you reach into your bag, pocket or purse and realize you've forgotten your headphones. Having to listen to the mechanical whine and screech of passing trains, the screaming and crying of small children and the loud laughter of intoxicated revelers while you're on your way to work can be infuriating.

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Photo Courtesy: David Shankbone/Flickr

Fortunately, this antisocial commuter had a portable electronic keyboard along for the ride. While their fellow passengers don't look particularly impressed, it's obvious that this unexpected pianist got to enjoy the ride and avoid others. Win-win!

Not From Around Here

The Big Apple is a city of immigrants, and proudly so. New York City is one of the largest and most collaborative melting pots in the world, and people of all cultures and languages are represented among its many neighborhoods. Yet, most groups in NYC are all from this planet — right?

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Photo Courtesy: New York secrets/YouTube

This extraterrestrial seems to be attempting some sort of socialization, but perhaps it's not sure how to communicate with fellow passengers. It just goes to show that sometimes it can be difficult to make friends in a big city.

Commuter Cuddles

Sleeping passengers are nothing new to bus drivers, tram operators and metro commuters. Still, there are a few sleeping beauties here and there that make an indelible impression on the minds and souls of fellow travelers. These lethargic riders are a perfect example of unforgettable subway sleepers.

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Photo Courtesy: Dennis Fraevich/Flickr

Not only are these two passengers sleeping on the train and taking up several seats while doing so, but they're snuggling together for comfort and warmth. Honestly, this is a fantastic reason to always ride with a good friend. You never know when you'll need a human pillow during your commute.

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Offline Online Drama

Social media can be a fantastic tool for expression and communication. Facebook walls and Instagram comment sections can also become virtual bathroom stall walls with awful insults and random drama scrawled into every corner. While most psychologists recommend limiting social media usage and exposure, some people thrive on the theatrics.

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Photo Courtesy: BossDT/YouTube

Scanning through the comments section of nearly any Facebook post is sure to lead to hours of entertaining reading. Arguments among complete strangers can erupt into weeks-long feuds. This commuter decided that they couldn't wait to get home to read these dramatic virtual battles on Facebook itself and printed them out for convenient travel reading.

Reading for Displeasure

Most people who carry books around do so because they're enjoying reading those books. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, as this person’s expression plainly shows. While most people might dive into a playlist or a riveting story to avoid social contact, this particular book seems to be more upsetting than comforting.

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Photo Courtesy: Mattia Belletti/Flickr

Still, it's possible to read way too far into these things. This person might just have a delicious piece of their lunch caught in a back molar and they’re trying to tongue it out. You never know!

Getting an Earful

Personal grooming while in public can be awkward, embarrassing and (funnily enough) incredibly unhygienic. The most common violations include brushing hair, brushing teeth and applying makeup. These two passengers take things to an entirely new level by physically exploring each others' ear canals.

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Photo Courtesy: New York secrets/YouTube

While it may be difficult to understand what led to this moment of inner-ear affection, there’s a singular positive point to make about this candid shot: These two commuters obviously trust and care for one another quite a lot, and that's a beautiful thing, even if the ear-cleaning itself is pretty gross.

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Caught in the Tube

This candid photo seems like the basis for an urban legend. Sure, you could simply look off into the distance while rocking some headphones to ignore other passengers. Or, you know, you could roll around in a cat play tube with a butterfly face painting decal around your eyes and stare at other passengers with a blank expression.

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Photo Courtesy: BossDT/YouTube

That's a surefire way to make strangers avoid you. Most strangers at least. It's likely that at least a few people had enough courage or curiosity to ask what in the you-know-where was going on.

Here Comes Spider Guy

You can never be too sure what you’ll see when you hop on your morning train, but some things are expected: blank stares, accidental eye contact, the occasional oddity or strange passenger -- it's all part of the fun of public transportation!

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Photo Courtesy: Funny Vines/YouTube

Chances are, whatever strange things this person's fellow commuters were expecting, this wasn't it. Who knew that Spidey takes the subway? Here, it looks like he’s either protecting the transit car from bad guys (nobody's getting in or out that door!) or maybe catching a light nap. Whatever the case, he clearly isn't to be messed with.

No Children Here, Sir

Think back to being a child. Were there ever times when it felt like you were treated like you were less important than the grown-ups? Well, this tiny adult has already figured it all out. There's no handholding, no stroller and no juice box here. Just a small mustachioed man in sunglasses who’s trying to take the world day by day.

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Photo Courtesy: BossDT/YouTube

It's easy to imagine that this young commuter has his own studio apartment and enjoys visiting the local farmer's market. Who knows? This smart-looking passenger might be the world's youngest music producer or restaurant owner!

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Toes Bare, Don't Care

Flip-flops and sandals certainly have their place — like beaches, warm tropical climates or the backyard. However, public transportation is often a death sentence for sandal-clad feet. Overcrowded buses, trains or subway cars can result in bruised and broken toes, and this commuter is truly brave to don her flip-flops while out and about.

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Photo Courtesy: New York secrets/YouTube

Still, their waist-high position ensures that all surrounding passengers can gaze at these painted toes, which could become an awkward problem. Then again, maybe that's why this sandal-clad traveler has them there in the first place — if you can’t bring a guard dog along, why not have some guard feet instead?

Papa Smurf’s Downfall

This candid snapshot could show many things. On the surface, it seems to depict a blue-faced wizard who has lost their magical hat but found a cell phone. Perhaps this spellcaster is calling for help, or perhaps they're questioning how their robes might clash with their jeans.

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Photo Courtesy: New York secrets/YouTube

The story behind this image is a mystery. But the thing that should really catch your eye is how this cornflower-colored commuter is stroking their strangely placed beard. This indicates deep thought and a little wariness, which could explain why this magician or Papa Smurf wannabe is looking so blue.

Feeling Green

Some trips can feel like a tiny lifetime of waiting and watching as the train rolls through station after station. Still, how long was this commuter riding to be able to grow this much body-lichen? Well, the fastest-growing lichen in the world can grow almost 20 inches in a year.

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Photo Courtesy: BossDT/YouTube

That means that this passenger is either wearing an awesome costume, or they've been riding a somewhat humid, partially lit train for over a year straight. Now that's a horror movie waiting to happen. Well, for people who are afraid of human-shaped moss, anyway.

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Public Mirror

Technology is a wonderful thing that has empowered millions of people to explore their passions and share information with a worldwide community. Some tech, like the self-facing cameras in most smartphones, is often used to take flattering photos, but in this case, it's serving as a compact mirror that's helping this passenger clean their teeth.

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Photo Courtesy: New York secrets/YouTube

It's obvious that this commuter was hoping to avoid public speculation concerning a lingering snack in their pearly whites, but their technology has betrayed them. Look carefully, folks. This could be proof that our devices are slowly trying to embarrass us.

Squeaky Clean

Some of the best and most heartwarming shots of public transportation fanatics include what’s known as "The Stare" or "side-eye." This photo is a fantastic example of "The Stare," though it does seem somewhat unwarranted. After all, this bathrobe-clad commuter is minding their own business and following all of the rules of antisocial behavior, right down to the sunglasses.

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Photo Courtesy: BE AMAZED/YouTube

Still, the matching pink robe and hat may just be too much color for an early-morning wakeup ride. It's possible that "The Stare" shown here comes from a deep-seated place of jealousy. It's a shame. Envy makes you green, not pink!

Piercing Gaze

What's up with all these creepy demons and devils on public buses and rail transit systems? Surely if they were as powerful as they pretend to be, they wouldn't need to rely on public transport to get around, right? Well, it seems like there have been some financial cutbacks in the demon realm.

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Photo Courtesy: Star Channel/YouTube

Then again, what better way is there for human commuters to avoid fellow human passengers than by pretending to be entities from an alternate dimension or hellscape? If you think about it, it's a weird but eerily logical solution.

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Serious Photobomb

Upon first glance, this is simply a fantastic snap of a photogenic passenger. However, with a little inspection, it becomes obvious that this image shows one of the most subversive forms of antisocial behavior on public transportation: photobombing.

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Photo Courtesy: RubyGoes/Flickr

All of the confidence and charm exuded by the photogenic passenger disappears into the endless black void that is this photobomber a few seats back. The judgmental look and fearless stare caught in this moment are perfect. More importantly, this photobomber tells a brief story about a passenger who refused to stop taking onboard pictures, and that's hilariously embarrassing.

Wait a Minute...

The conspiracy surrounding weird books on public transportation continues. Now, this example is entirely intentional. The cover seems to be a well-folded sheet of paper that was printed on an at-home printer. However, it's interesting to consider just how far this passenger is willing to go to shock fellow commuters.

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Photo Courtesy: American Eye/YouTube

This particular cover seems to indicate that it's about teaching toddlers how to properly use the dating app Tinder. While the idea of this is shocking enough, the reader's apparent concentration is far more troubling. Still, this is a fantastic way to have strangers avoid you.

The Straight Stare-ahead

Most antisocial commuters have a handful of "moves" they resort to when times are tough. When anxiety kicks in, there are a few common go-tos that relieve it. This one, the "straight stare-ahead," is a classic. Those fortunate enough to sit in forward-facing seats can enjoy reduced accidental eye contact by staring at the seats in front.

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Photo Courtesy: nifty26/Flickr

As their eyes bore into the faux leather or brightly patterned fabric, it becomes obvious how little they want to be there. This rider was spotted committing all of the standard antisocial moves, including phone-checking and arm-crossing, in a side-facing seat. Impressive!

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Unseen Stare

This great shot may just be worth a thousand words. There's the man in dark sunglasses who looks disgusted about having his photo taken. There's the side-eyeing woman trying to sneakily look at her companion's phone. And, of course, there's the exhausted fella cradling a boombox and shopping bags as he catches up on some sleep.

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Photo Courtesy: craig Cloutier/Flickr

Altogether, these passengers make for your typical, incredibly unwelcoming, antisocial mass-transit atmosphere. Sure, there's a tiny bit of space between two of these four commuters, but the consequences of trying to slide into it are written on the face of the man with the shades.

The Look of Quiet Rage

A classic technique for avoiding other passengers is to stare coldly into the faraway distance. Of course, taking up a whole seat with your shopping bag is also pretty off-putting. This commuter uses both to their advantage during this trip. People are standing all around, but that doesn't matter. The expression screams, "Don't come near me!"

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Photo Courtesy: Jeff Smith/Flickr

The hilarious subplot of this photo is that there's a good chance that this passenger is utterly unaware of how uninviting they look. Many people tend to look angry when they zone out, and this may just be a resting expression.

Currently Unavailable

This NYC Subway commuter is the physical embodiment of a dial tone. While they’re present in terms of body, their mind is very evidently unavailable. Fortunately, it seems like an embarrassing photo is about the worst that's going to happen in this awkward situation.

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Photo Courtesy: Mussi Katz/YouTube

Falling asleep, open-mouthed, while riding the train is embarrassing, but it's not nearly as uncomfortable as being the person who has to wake the sleeper up and tell them they've missed their stop. No one likely woke up this poor snoozer because it's just too awkward.

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Patterns of Antisocial Behavior

This photograph is a work of art. It shows a bookend of antisocial commuters. Let's see here. There's someone sleeping over a briefcase, three folks playing games and a passenger resting their eyes. The near-perfect symmetry of this image is both remarkable and comforting. Rather than staring angrily into the void, these commuters are having fun with their downtime.

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Photo Courtesy: Joseph Choi/Flickr

Well, the sleepy passengers might not be having as much fun, though that's certainly debatable. Overall, this artistic masterpiece proves that you don't have to be bored while ignoring everyone around you.

Ouch

Sometimes, a look can hurt more than a verbal insult. This passenger's straightforward gaze is comparable to Mona Lisa's smile. But instead of a mysterious grin, this commuter is staring into the soul of the photographer with a fiery intensity that could melt the skin from a normal human's bones.

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Photo Courtesy: TheeErin/Flickr

Still, this gaze could represent bored surprise, it could show slight annoyance, or it could be barely controlled, seething hatred. Like many of these photos, the full story behind the captured moment will likely never come to light. Still, like the Mona Lisa, that's part of the charm.

Staying Informed

Kids catch a lot of flack these days from older generations, and it's refreshing to see a youngster perusing the daily paper while riding the morning train. Not only is this kid practicing their reading and analytical-thinking skills, but they're also practicing their antisocial skills.

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Photo Courtesy: julio.garciah/Flickr

Reading a paper is a great way to make sure no one bothers you, and this tiny passenger has got the "I'm busy so don't bother me" vibe down to a science. And the seat with the bundle of newspapers is a smart move for a kid traveling alone.

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