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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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.