The Bryn Guy by George Helmke

Every day I ride the commuter train to work. After years of this, I start getting to know the other passengers in a special way. I don't know their names, and I don't talk to them, but I see them, and they affect my life.

It all started with Bryn Guy. I call him that because he always gets off at Bryn station. But that is not what matters about him, no, that comes in the way he gets on the train. He gets on at the same place I do, Asker. After a short while, I came to know him as my rival. He had the same goal as me - to predict exactly where the train was going to stop, and be the first on, thus securing the best possible seat. He beat me every day for six months, and I came to know him as a cunning and resourceful rival.

He knew every trick - train stoppage prediction, strategic wagon selection, and platform correction. When all else failed, he got me with the door opener trick. That is the most dreaded of all - Put yourself exactly where the door opens. You leave the other person on the side, stupidly pushing the door opener button while you gracefully glide in first.

He was a master of the true art of train entry - making it all look accidental. Looking too pushy costs you style points, because it exposes your true intentions. The real winner is the one who makes it look like it was totally luck that he was in the right place at the right time.

I began to understand that Bryn Guy was a true master, but I also understood that I had unmasked his true intentions. Yes, he was starting to lose style points to me, and deep down, he knew it. From that point on, it became ever more important to him to win hands down, because that was all he had left.

I was frustrated. I was close, but he still beat me every day. I did, however, develop the true respect that a worthy rival deserves. That increased my resolve.

Finally the day came when it was my turn to be the champion. He miscalculated the train. I, on the other hand, had calculated the stop perfectly. Bryn Guy made a last minute desperate platform correction. His timing was perfect for my purposes- I left him pushing the button while I was the first one on the train. I saw a flash of anger go across his face - his unbeaten streak was over. He was just another commuter.

I didn't ride that train for a year or so, but now I am back. Bryn guy and I have reached a settlement - he is the undisputed champion of the first door, I am the champion of the second.

Our only rivalry is now the middle of the car - who gets the seat first. And once again, I have discovered I am up against the master. Person blocking, seat pre-selection, you name it. His techniques are flawless.

It is no longer important to me to beat him. Once was enough, both for me and him.

I content myself with an occasional round with Hat and Mustache Guy. Bryn Guy was the master, and thus was a great teacher. Most of the time I can even set H&M Guy up to be stuck pushing the opener button, just for laughs.

It no longer matters. As long as I get the coveted "corrner seats that face each other", I am content.

The techniques:

Train Stoppage Prediction: Knowing where the train will probably stop is critical to initial first placement on the platform.
Platform Correction: Judging the slowing rate of the train and commuter placement, ones quickly moves to the most advantageous spot. While a good last minute correction, it unfortunately costs style points.
Wagon Count Correction: Similar to platform correction, but takes the number of cars on the train into account.
Strategic Wagon Selection: A key is knowing which trains have the best seats. You don't always want the best seats, because there is high demand for these cars. Much of this depends on how full the train is.
Conductor Focus: If the door is about to open, and I see a Conductor, I look to see which way their eyes are directed. I then place myself so I come in the other way. This blocks all other commuters.