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Your knees are pressing into my repressed rage

December 14th, 2010 · 65 comments

So, one morning, Emily was riding the train from the ’burbs into downtown Chicago, minding her own business like all the other commuters. All of sudden, she says, “about 10 minutes before we reached Union Station, the woman sitting directly in front of me turned and handed me this note without saying a word.”

Hello, awkward!

Hello, Good Morning! Your knees are in my back. :)

related: You seem nice, but please don’t sit near me ever again.

FILED UNDER: painfully polite · public transit · smiley · touching

65 responses so far ↓

  • #1   anon mouse

    those knees were fucking delicious.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm   rating: 18  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   Jonathan

      Well, time for a courtesy wipe.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #1.2   Woman on the Verge bang

      Fuck you, anon mouse.

      Dec 15, 2010 at 2:49 pm   rating: 24  small thumbs up

    • #1.3   concerned reader

      No, fuck YOU woman on the verge. Damn you’re annoying.

      Dec 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm   rating: 11  small thumbs up

  • #2   Sliverbane

    Hello, Good Morning! Your back is pressing against my knees :)

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm   rating: 96  small thumbs up

  • #3   berge bang

    The smiley face has that “I’m trying to be nice and calm but I’m about to go nuts with rage” look to it. Gotta love the confrontation-phobic.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm   rating: 34  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   The Elf

      It’s the AM commute. Everyone is confrontation-phobic, except for those who accidentally overcaffeinated at home. They make it up for the rest of us train sleepers.

      Dec 16, 2010 at 11:13 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #4   Jonathan

    The student fee hike protesters in London should have tried this. Perhaps the police repression wouldn’t have been as harsh.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #5   Deb

    The morning WAS good until you asked me to remove my knees from your back. Buzz kill!

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #6   Smiley4099

    If the woman had just turned around and said something, I bet Emily’s knees would’ve been out of the woman’s back in a fraction of the time it took to whip out a pad of paper from the woman’s undoubtedly oversized duffle bag of a purse, and that’s without factoring in the time it took to fish out a pen and write the note.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm   rating: 26  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   clever name

      She was deaf. I’m sure of it. My friend is and she uses smiley faces to make sure people know she is not writing with sarcasm, on the instances she has to write. Maybe a real smile would have helped, but I dunno, maybe she was shy?

      Dec 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm   rating: 44  small thumbs up

    • #6.2   SP

      I’ve got to agree. Definitely deaf.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm   rating: 17  small thumbs up

    • #6.3   clumber

      Sorry. Can’t help it.

      What??! What didja’ say???!!!

      Dec 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #7   CakeasaurusRex

    My knees go where they PLEASE!

    I LOFF the smiley :DDD

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #8   Rebekah

    Hey. Some people pay for this kinda thing. Lady on the train should have tipped for her free Chiropractor session. Just sayin’.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #9   ClearlyDemented

    In order to keep from having to throw myself off of a cliff, I’m going to assume this notegiver was deaf.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm   rating: 40  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   cathy

      totally agree with you…she might be deaf and/or mute and just doesn’t want to explain her disability every single time she talks to a stranger. though she could have written the note a little less bluntly.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm   rating: 11  small thumbs up

    • #9.2   berge bang

      No way – if that were the case, she would have just written “your knees are in my back” and left it at that. This person is PA, and has the polite, “hello’s, good morning’s, and smiley faces” to prove it.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm   rating: 16  small thumbs up

    • #9.3   clever name

      ah, you guys came to the deaf conclusion as well. No, just writing “your knees are in my back” would make her seem mad, and I’m sure it was a mistake. Some people use smileys because it is hard to give a note a tone. Adding a smile means I’m not trying to be a bitch.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm   rating: 29  small thumbs up

    • #9.4   SP


      Dec 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #9.5   Janey

      No way. The lady waited until ten minutes before the station. That tells me she was totally PA.

      Dec 16, 2010 at 9:44 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #10   Guy

    She might have been deaf/mute. The smiley face is what is creepy about it to me, but then, I lived through the 70s so I’m a little bitter about that whole “Have a Nice Day” crowd.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

  • #11   red velvet

    Shenanigans. The train leaves enough room between seats that unless Emily’s got freakishly longs legs or is doing that on purpose, nobody’s knees should be in anybody’s back.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm   rating: 47  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   farcical aquatic ceremony

      Agreed. (And I’d give ya’ a bonus thumb just for the use of “shenanigans”, if I could!) Perhaps Emily DOES have freakishly-long legs. Notewriter would’ve been put in her place by a return note reading: “Hello. In fact, I have from birth been burdened by freakishly-long legs. Thanks for making me painfully aware of my deformity, YET AGAIN! It was a good morning… : ( “

      Dec 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm   rating: 25  small thumbs up

    • #11.2   pit pat

      the last time I was on the train (and please, can I call it the “el,” since it’s elevated, and not the “L?”), the seats were hard. They’re not like car seats, where you can feel someone pressing on them. Unless the CTA has put in plush seats since I stopped riding…

      Dec 14, 2010 at 8:35 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #11.3   anglophile bang

      Except the L doesn’t go into Union Station.

      Submitter was either on the Metra or the Amtrak.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #11.4   pit pat

      Oh, I missed that. I vote Metra, then.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #11.5   Melissa

      I agree, the metra or amtrak has like 3 or 4 feet of space between seats. they are painfully uncomfortable though.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 10:01 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #11.6   Espio

      You’ve apparently never ridden on the Metra cars that have the seat backs that do a 180-flip over when switching directions. I can speak from (an almost weekly experience) that it is very possible for someone behind you to either have their foot or knee (if slouched down) in your back.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #11.7   a-Arialist

      I wanna come live where you live! Our frakking trains have seats so close together that you’re smooshed up against the people sitting beside you and your knees are interlaced with those of the people opposite. The aisles are narrow so the people standing end up resting their arse on your shoulder.

      It’s all thoroughly unpleasant, oh! For just a knee in the back rather than an arse on my shoulder. . .

      Dec 15, 2010 at 3:27 am   rating: 18  small thumbs up

    • #11.8   WMDKitty

      +1 for “shenanigans”

      Dec 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #11.9   E

      (Cut to an upper-class drawing room. An elderly man lies dead on the floor. Enter Jasmina and John.)

      Jasmina: Anyway, John, you can catch the 11.30 from Hornchurch and be in Basingstoke by one o’clock, oh, and there’s a buffet car and… (sees corpse) Oh! Daddy!

      John (Eric Idle): My hat! Sir Horace!

      Jasmina: (not daring to look) Has he been…

      John: Yes – after breakfast. But that doesn’t matter now, he’s dead.

      Jasmina: Oh! Poor daddy!

      John: Looks like I shan’t be catching the 11:30 now.

      Jasmina: Oh no, John, you mustn’t miss your train.

      John: How could I think of catching a train when I should be here helping you?

      Jasmina: Oh, John, thank you. Anyway you could always catch the 9:30 tomorrow – it goes via Caterham and Chipstead.

      John: Or the 9:45′s even better.

      Jasmina: Oh, but you’d have to change at Lambs Green.

      John: Yes, but there’s only a seven-minute wait now.

      Jasmina: Oh, yes, of course, I’d forgotten it was Friday. Oh, who could have done this?

      (Enter Lady Partridge.)

      Lady Partridge (Graham Chapman): Oh, do hurry Sir Horace, your train leaves in twenty-eight minutes, and if you miss the 10:15 you won’t catch the 3:45 which means… oh!

      John: I’m afraid Sir Horace won’t be catching the 10:15, Lady Partridge.

      Lady Partridge: Has he been… ?

      Jasmina: Yes – after breakfast.

      John: Lady Partridge, I’m afraid you can cancel his seat reservation.

      Lady Partridge: Oh, and it was back to the engine – fourth coach along so that he could see the gradient signs outside Swanborough.

      John: Not any more Lady Partridge, the line’s been closed.

      Lady Partridge: Closed! Not Swanborough!

      John: I’m afraid so.

      (Enter Inspector Davis.)

      Inspector (Terry Jones: All right, nobody move. I’m Inspector Davis of Scotland Yard.

      John: My word, you were here quickly, inspector.

      Inspector: Yeah, I got the 8:55 Pullman Express from King’s Cross and missed that bit around Hornchurch.

      Lady Partridge: It’s a very good train.

      All: Excellent, very good, delightful.

      (Tony runs in through the french windows. He wears white flannels and boater and is jolly upper-class.)

      Tony (Michael Palin0: Hello everyone.

      All: Tony!

      Tony: Where’s daddy? (seeing him) Oh golly! Has he been… ?

      John and Jasmina: Yes, after breakfast.

      Tony: Then he… won’t be needing his reservation on the 10:15.

      John: Exactly.

      Tony: And I suppose as his eldest son it must go to me.

      Inspector: Just a minute, Tony. There’s a small matter of… murder.

      Tony: Oh, but surely he simply shot himself and then hid the gun.

      Lady Partridge: How could anyone shoot himself and then hide the gun without first cancelling his reservation.

      Tony: Ha, ha! Well, I must dash or I’ll be late for the 10:15.

      Inspector: I suggest you murdered your father for his seat reservation.

      Tony: I may have had the motive, inspector, but I could not have done it, for I have only just arrived from Gillingham on the 8:13 and here’s my restaurant car ticket to prove it.

      Jasmina: The 8:13 from Gillingham doesn’t have a restaurant car.

      John: It’s a standing buffet only.

      Tony: Oh, er… did I say the 8:13, I meant the 7:58 stopping train.

      Lady Partridge: But the 7:58 stopping train arrived at Swindon at 8:19 owing to annual point maintenance at Wisborough Junction.

      John: So how did you make the connection with the 8:13 which left six minutes earlier?

      Tony: Oh, er, simple! I caught the 7:16 Football Special arriving at Swindon at 8:09.

      Jasmina: But the 7:16 Football Special only stops at Swindon on alternate Saturdays.

      Lady Partridge: Yes, surely you mean the Holidaymaker Special.

      Tony: Oh, yes! How daft of me. Of course, I came on the Holidaymaker Special calling at Bedford, Colmworth, Fen Dinon, Sutton, Wallington and Gillingham.

      Inspector: That’s Sundays only!

      Tony: Damn. All right, I confess I did it. I killed him for his reservation, but you won’t take me alive! I’m going to throw myself under the 10:12 from Reading.

      John: Don’t be a fool, Tony, don’t do it, the 10:12 has the new narrow traction bogies, you wouldn’t stand a chance.

      Tony: Exactly.

      (Tableau. Loud chord and slow curtain.)

      Dec 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #12   Kay

    I would write right back:

    “You’re welcome,
    and good morning to you too!

    There is no directive in the note and she is clearly expressing pleasure in greetings and happy face. I think note writer thoroughly enjoyed the knees in her back.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm   rating: 32  small thumbs up

  • #13   ;) = :D?

    The lady might have had a disability that didn’t want to/forgot to mention. At least, I hope so. Otherwise I weep for humanity and smilies.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #14   grammaphile

    I spend too much time on the internet–”your knees” somehow looks wrong to me here.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #15   knees

    if you thought we were in your back before, you are in for one helluva ride now.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #16   aaa bang

    Those weren’t my knees.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm   rating: 41  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   farcical aquatic ceremony

      (Yes…my boobs ARE ridiculously firm and protrude-y…)

      Dec 14, 2010 at 8:44 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #16.2   anglophile bang

      I was just happy to see you.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

    • #16.3   park rose

      FAC – yup, she shouldn’t knock the knockers knocking the back of the seat . . .

      And kind of riffing from ‘glo; If it was a guy who was sitting in front, you could then say With a knick-knack paddy-whack (remembering paddy melons while we’re being all Benny Hill), give a dog a bone . . . digressions.

      Dec 15, 2010 at 9:39 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #16.4   H for Toy bang

      Perky, FAC!

      Dec 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #17   UnclGhost

    What is she even supposed to do? I’m like 6’3″ and the seats on the bus just don’t have enough space for my femurs.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #17.1   sleeps

      I suggest a surgical femur shortening procedure.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #17.2   clumber

      This is PAN though, sleeps. You must DEMAND a surgical femur shortening procedure!

      Would that involve CRISCO?

      Dec 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #17.3   sleeps

      I’m not sure, but I feel certain that something productive could be done with the leftover femur tips. Perhaps a nice stew for the homeless??

      Dec 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #18   jadefirefly

    Um, what? I’ve been on those trains. There’s PLENTY of room for knees — and if there isn’t, they’re heavily padded seats! I can’t imagine any reasonable way someone’s knees could be felt through them.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #18.1   Danny

      Who said Emily’s knees were behind the seats? Perhaps she threw her whole legs over the seat back. In that case, a note may have been the most appropriate response.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm   rating: 12  small thumbs up

    • #18.2   jadefirefly

      … That actually wouldn’t surprise me at all. I don’t ride the Metra often, but I doubt the general behavior of the passengers is any different than it is on the CTA.

      Dec 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #18.3   clumber

      I love… no I adore the image of a passenger with legs thrown over the seat ahead of her. I think I will take it upon myself to make this my GoTo posture in public seating from now on. To the movie theatre!

      Dec 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #19   Auntybron

    I have passive agressive smiles – my smiles stick their tongues out.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #20   EmKitteh

    I’ve never been on the Metra or the Amtrak (I’m an Aussie) but I’ll quite happily stick my knees in someone’s back only if it’s one of those assholes who recline their seat all the way back.

    Dec 14, 2010 at 11:50 pm   rating: 16  small thumbs up

  • #21   Alicia

    This lady is my hero.

    Dec 15, 2010 at 12:32 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #22   waegookin

    Putting your knees up against the seat in front of you you is inexcusable if there is someone in that seat.

    Dec 15, 2010 at 7:15 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #22.1   The Elf

      Yeah, but if someone is bothering me with their knees and I don’t feel confrontational, I just get up and move. I pick a different seat. I stand in the aisle (especially if there is only 10 minutes left in my commute). There’s lots of different options.

      FWIW, I used to ride the commuter rail to DC’s Union Station. We had multiple car designs (including some Chicago sold us), and you could feel knees in some and not in others.

      Dec 16, 2010 at 11:19 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #23   snuzzled

    Sorry, the fact that she couldn’t smile when she handed over the note clearly shows me that it was a PA smiley and not a “I’m not really mad” smiley.

    Most Deaf people I have known have been really facially expressive… they kind of have to be, since they don’t have a tone of voice to convey emotion with. Not that I’m saying all Deaf people are the same, but yeesh, if she really was politely pointing it out then she could have physically smiled, even a little, otherwise the smiley and double cheerful greetings really come off as painfully sarcastic and PA.

    Dec 15, 2010 at 9:07 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #24   grendel

    Even if she was deaf, she was riding public transportation.

    Dec 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #25   bored@work

    Hello, Good Morning!
    Send another note and my knuckles are in your mouth. :)

    Dec 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #26   TippingCows

    Hahahahahaha! Emily has freakishly long legs! She is an Amazon or perhaps a human torso connected to the lower body of a grasshopper or maybe Emily is a giant electric eel, and it wasn’t her knees in the lady’s back. When the lady turned around to put the note on, she noticed with horror that the creature behind her had NO KNEES but it was too late, she had to follow through or Emily the Eel might have taken her hesitation the wrong way. Emily lashes out at people that look at her with horror or disgust – in fact, most eels do. The lady knew this. Can you imagine her horror?
    Emily, please give information on both sides of the situation next time so you don’t make me hire a private investigator to find out that you’re not even human. Sheesh.

    Dec 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm   rating: 17  small thumbs up

    • #26.1   sleeps

      I’ll have what TippingCows is having.

      Dec 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm   rating: 16  small thumbs up

    • #26.2   WMDKitty

      Whoa. Did someone get into the brown ac id?

      Dec 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #27   juniper

    Remarkable lack of remorse for the person to let us know they were dick enough to be one of those people that stick their knees into the back of your seat and then proceed to wiggle the whole journey as it’s not a sustainable position to be in.

    Dec 16, 2010 at 9:51 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #28   fred

    “good morning, welcome to the train. should have taken a cab.”

    Dec 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #29   Jen

    Maybe she was deaf…

    Dec 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #30   MommaT

    Wait, when was my mother in law in Chicago?

    Dec 23, 2010 at 5:43 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #31   Lunar

    Turn it over and write, “stop riding coach and it won’t happen again”

    Jan 11, 2011 at 8:38 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up


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