A s(h)ocking tale!
I don't approve of this method of obtaining a seat in a train, but a friend found it useful and explained the method to me with a straight face.
The friend was then a student in a college which was about 100 kilometres away from his hometown. He, therefore, lived in a hostel. He loved it; it gave him a thrill of freedom to be away from his family. A number of classmates from school had enrolled in the same college, and so there was never a dull moment. Now, 100 kilometres is hardly any distance ..... just a matter of two hours in a train. But they avoided coming home during the weekends, explaining to their parents they had a lot of assignments to complete and submissions to make.
Long vacations, like the summer vacations, were a different matter. They had to return home! A two-hour train journey, even if they had to travel standing in an overcrowded train, is not a backbreaking task for a bunch of college students. And, the trains were always overcrowded.
Although the boys did not mind standing all through the journey, a seat would always be welcome. It never occurred to them to reserve their seats in advance; anyway, seat reservations don't come easy. They had to travel in unreserved coaches.
One of the fellows hit upon an idea to obtains seats. It was, of course, hot in the summer months when they had their vacations. When it is hot, one tends to sweat; the boys sweated. The boy who hit upon the idea sweated the most; the sweat glands in his feet worked overtime and his socks would be drenched in minutes! Now if this boy removed his shoes, the odour could cause even the most insensitive nose to flinch! This guy, despite all his other faults, could be depended upon to reach the railway station early.
He would arrive early, jump into the waiting train, place his smelly socks on the seats, and then jump out again to wait for the others. It worked! The odour was so strong that other passengers, despite the large number of travelers, avoided the coach. The friends began to arrive one after the other; so sure were they of their strategy that they kept waiting outside on the platform till the last moment.
The plan had worked! Well, almost. An old man arrived carrying a walk stick. He seemed to have the most obdurate nose; the smell failed to stop him from entering the coach. The train window opened; a portion of a walking stick stuck out with a sock dangling at its tip; the stick dipped and the sock dropped neatly in the gap between the train and the platform. The stick disappeared and reappeared with the other sock; the same procedure followed and the sock flew to meet its partner down somewhere.
Within seconds the coach filled up; there were only a few minutes before the departure of the train. My friend and his friends made the journey to their hometown standing all through the two hours. The sweaty friend reached home sock-less!