Hot coffee should be banned on City Rail!

humcontest2Here is the text of the speech I gave at the Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest. I have included a video recording at the end of the article.

Years ago a train trip was relatively uneventful. People would sit, and maybe read a book or newspaper.

There is a disturbing new trend in public transport – a potential hazard – The consumption of hot drinks during peak hour. What is the cause of  this new behavior?

Rail commuters in Sydney now have ready access to coffee kiosks at train stations.  Years ago you needed to sit in a café to enjoy your coffee. Now the train carriage has become the café on wheels.

Although I  commend  the initiative of these businesses catering to the needs of time-poor, rushed commuters, I think hot drinks should be banned from the trains. It’s too easy to spill them, and even if you don’t all you’re doing is annoying the other commuters .

Let me tell you why.

1. First – The Aroma. I love the smell of freshly made coffee – especially when it is for me, but having to smell other people’s coffee during my morning commute is torture!

2. Then there is the Danger of Spills. One morning I saw a business-man place his full cup of coffee on the floor. It wasn’t long before the inevitable happened. The train jerked and the coffee cup fell over. A tsunami  of hot brown liquid flowed rapidly down the corridor threatening other commuters and backpacks left on the floor. The man realised what had happened but was powerless to clean up the spill. Who carries paper towels in their briefcase? He sheepishly removed some paper from his briefcase and put it on the spill, but photocopy paper is not absorbent.

3. Another threat are Abandoned Spills. Once  during peak hour I noticed the seat in front was empty . As hopeful  travellers approached the seat Expecting a comfortable trip I watched their faces turned to disappointment as they looked at the coffee splashed on the seat and the brown puddle on the floor.

4. Spilling hot liquids on fellow commuters is another threat. The modern commuter often tries to do too much on what should be a relaxing journey to work. Last week I saw a man with a coffee in one hand and iPhone in the other. He sat down, then pulled out his iPad  and balanced it on his knee – he fiddled with the phone, sipped coffee and fingered  the iPad. Like a juggler he held the phone, coffee and iPad – balancing all three. I wouldn’t want to  be setting next to him when he made a wild finger gesture knocking the coffee onto my legs and risk being burnt by splashes of his steaming latte.

5. Rubbish. Unfortunately most coffee drinkers don’t take their rubbish with them. I often see  cups and lids stuffed next to the seats or left on the floor. And if the cup still contains coffee , it becomes a booby trap for the unknowing commuter who attempts to move it.

This behavior leads to the burning question (please excuse the pun) of  Why do people drink coffee on the train?    Drinking coffee will make  you more alert and  aware of your surroundings.  Coffee can help you start your business day smarter and faster.

But do you really want to be more alert and aware on a morning commuter train? You’re not the train driver! Is it so important that you notice that 15 people got off at St Leonards and 23  people got on? Why not enjoy your journey half asleep?

It turns out, and many people are unable to understand this, that you can buy a coffee at your destination station, once you’ve got off the train and exited the ticket gates. You can then take take this  coffee to your office and drink it at your leisure with no danger to others.

Railways probably have themselves to blame, because years ago people were encouraged to eat and drink on trains, in the Dining Car. Younger people won’t remember these, they got phased out in the 1980s. There also used to be dedicated smoking carriages, which were pretty disgusting but you could often get a seat.  Maybe the current commuter craze for drinking coffee on trains is an overdue public reaction to the disappearance of the Dining Car. We now have Quiet Carriages so how about  we   lobby City Rail  – for a Coffee Carriage.

I think an easier  solution is for train station cafes to serve to people on their way out  and never on their way in. While this might seem like a trade restriction – the railways sometimes do the same thing by having some train stops  being “pick up” or “set down” only.

Let’s make coffees available on the “way out” of train stations and never on the  “way in”.

If you need to buy something on your way into a train station, make it a newspaper.


Here is a video recording of the speech.  

I have to say I was disappointed with my speech for several reasons – the material wasn’t so funny and there weren’t so many laughs. Oh well. More practice and exploration of other topics and strategies. I got third place out of five contestants. I value your comments on the text and the speech. How could it be funnier? 

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Author: charuzu

I live in Sydney and interests include music, piano playing, technology, cooking, English language, public speaking, Toastmasters, Asian culture (especially Japan and Korea), cinema, personal development, productivity and making friends with people from around the world.

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