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Column: I’ve seen the worst of humanity… and it takes the 11.25 to London.

I am on a train and the whole carriage is angry with Gavin.

Gavin is the man on the seat opposite. We all know he’s called Gavin because he announced it down the phone, earlier in the journey.

“Hello everybody,” he bellowed, “it’s Gavin here. Coming in to land on the conference call. Great to connect with you all.” If I were his boss, that turn of phrase alone would be grounds for immediate dismissal. A P45 would be coming in to land on his desk by lunchtime.

Yet here we are, 45 minutes into Gavin’s conference call and he continues to thunder away with a level of self-confidence that probably means he uses words like ‘bants’ and refers to everything he eats as ‘cheeky.’

“Catch you later guys. I’m just going to have this cheeky sandwich and then I’ll bung over that email Trev,” roars Gavin as he pulls out an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a can of energy drink. And there, in that moment, all my worst fears are realised. Enough toxic egg smell to render the carriage air un-breathable and a can load of liquidised sugar to fuel further booming phone calls for the rest of the journey. 

I’ve seen the worst of humanity – and it’s on the 11:25 to London Euston.

As Gavin loudly chomps through his malicious sandwich, my mind drifts to what else this monster must be capable of.

I have no doubt that he drives in the middle lane of the motorway. I assume he probably makes plans knowing he’ll cancel them on the day. I bet he’s a backdoor bragger, too; one of those people that dresses up a brag as a moan.

“We had to sack the cleaner last week,” he’ll tell his friends on the golf course, “the house is just too big for her to cope with.” 

And Golf. Yes. Of course he plays Golf. Golf is a game played by the Gavin types of the world. I gave it a go once. It’s hours of being rude about your wife and passive aggressive arguing over who can whack a ball the furthest with a stick – and they’ve been getting away with calling it a sport for years.

I imagine Gavin puts empty milk bottles back in the fridge and leaves his shopping trolley in the middle of the car park. I can guarantee he hits ‘reply all’ and clogs up his colleague’s inbox with borderline inappropriate jokes. I bet he plays his music out loud from his phone like a teenager. In fact, we’ve probably got that to come. And I bet his music taste is appalling. I guess we’ll be treated to a musical tour of dreadful R&B before the end of the journey. 

I’m sure of all of this because I know Gavin. I’ve met Gavin a thousand times.

Gavin exists in every office, on every golf course, on every motorway and on every train and bus across the land.

I’m jarred from my day dreaming by the buzzing of my phone in my pocket. It’s my producer.

“Hello!” I said, shocking myself with the volume of my voice. “Sorry… can I… I’ll call you back when I get off the train?”

“Really? Can’t we chat now? It’s not usually a problem?” I am silent  – the realisation washes over me. She is right. We talk almost weekly on this train journey. There is nothing quick about the call either. We usually enjoy a warm up of idle chitchat then manoeuvre nicely into the main area of business. Have I shouted on this call before? Sometimes the engine is loud. Sometimes I have to fight against announcements over the tannoy. 

‘Oh God, I must have shouted’ I think to myself as I gaze down at the table in front of me and catch sight of my second crime. Supermarket sushi. I was trying to be healthy. I thought I was doing the right thing. Instead, Gavin and I have inflicted a cocktail of egg and fish stink on our fellow passengers. 

Come to think of it, I hit ‘reply all’ on emails all the time. But my jokes are funny, aren’t they? Aren’t they? And let’s be honest, sometimes, when you’re in a rush, it’s easier to leave your trolley in the car park. Somebody usually comes and collects it, right? Right?

The more I think through my life choices, the clearer it becomes – it is a festival of anti-social behaviour and I have been completely oblivious.

Perhaps we are all, on some level, a little bit Gavin.

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By Darryl Morris

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