How to ignore co-workers on public transport

When you live in a big city it’s more than likely you’ll take the metro to and from work. I’m currently living in Berlin, where this takes me 6 stops and two lines.

I don’t mind the metro much myself, even if it is true they can get heated and buskers can appear out of nowhere to replace your mellow Spotify tunes with those of the mariachi band from hell.

Still, it’s not as bad as bumping into a co-worker you barely know. Yes, the one that you sometimes have meetings with but never manage to talk to about more than the weather and how amazing it is that the company is expanding.

Here are my tips on how to avoid such awkward conversations:

Wear headphones
Not only does this make taking the metro more tolerable, it also gives you an excuse in case you walk past a co-worker. You’re just too into your music to notice.

When at your line, walk to the middle of the platform
Don’t stop at the beginning of a line. Not only is this usually busiest, it also means you’re much more exposed. By walking to the middle you are able to gain a fuller scope of who’s on the platform. If you see someone on the middle, walk to the other side of the line (the other direction), and then zig zag back in there after you passed them.

Look away when opening the metro doors
It’s possible a co-worker is waiting for you when you open the metro doors. To avoid this, look to the ground when you open the doors. Alternatively you can let someone else open the doors and just sneak in behind them.

Move towards the back 
This is a tricky one and it depends on how busy your metro is. Whatever you do, don’t sit down. This will leave you exposed. Instead, if possible, walk to the closed doors opposite you. This spot will make sure no one can sneak up on you. If it isn’t available, then grab the nearest handlebar. Don’t look anyone in the eyes.

Take out your phone or book and look down
Now that you’re in a secure position it’s important to keep your eyes away from your fellow travelers. Whether you’re an analog or digital person, either option will suffice to isolate you without making you look like a weirdo.

Exit the metro and run
Once you arrive at your stop, be the one to open the doors and run out. If you see someone familiar in front of you, slow down. You will now either be able to outrun them on the way to the office, or slowly walk behind them. Leave enough distance so you can hide behind objects in case they turn around.

Go to the break room and fix yourself a coffee
You will run into your co-worker here. Talk about how shit the weather is, and tell him how happy you are to be looking at spreadsheets for 5 days a week.

Note: this post is the result of a heated conversation with fellow whiner J.B.

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