Tube Tales

One of the best and worst things about living in London is the massive underground system. Developed during the Cambrian age to transport the smaller dinosaurs to their offices palaeontologists maintain that the tunnels of the London underground system hold significant scientific value and are currently excavating several sites during the weekends.

But seriously, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the tube. It’s usually very impressive; there are frequent trains running on time to basically everywhere I could possibly want to go. It’s only when it goes wrong that I hate it. It’s not often, but when it happens it has a huge impact on everything because it’s only then that I realise how much I rely on it.

The people I encounter on the tube are a constant source of, well, mostly fear, but sometimes also amusement. I got on the District Line at Ealing Broadway yesterday with my colleague Rob. We got on and saw that the carriage was almost full, but there were 3 empty seats with a man sitting on the fourth by himself. We sat opposite him suspecting nothing. I looked up and noticed that the girl behind him and the guy opposite her were looking at me and laughing. At first I thought I had something on my face, or my hair sticking up or something like that. It’s quite disconcerting having strangers laughing at you and not knowing why. A few seconds later I learned the source of their delight. The guy we’d sat opposite started moving his head closer and closer to me, staring, trying to make eye contact. He kept repeating “Hello…. Hello…” and I avoided his uncomfortable attention. I ended up closing my eyes and resting my head in my hand. I could hear him still saying hello every few seconds for the rest of the journey, and when I dared to open my eyes I could see the people behind him laughing at me. I’ve never been so pleased to get off a train in my entire life.

This morning I got on the train with Cheryl as usual. I got all the way to Green Park without a hitch and then the driver announced that Bond Street was closed due to overcrowding. I got off at Green Park and waited for the next train after it was announced that Bond Street was open again. There wasn’t enough room to get on, so I waited another couple of minutes for the next train. I got on and the driver announced that the train was only going as far as White City. I decided to get off at Queensway rather than White City so that I could get on the train behind before everyone else did at White City. That plan went well enough and I got a seat before the train got crowded, but then the driver announced that the train was terminating at North Acton. That’s not a huge problem because that’s where I work, but it means that the train had to wait 5 minutes for another train to pull out of the middle platform and then I had to walk up the stairs and over the bridge to get out. I was 15 minutes later to work than usual. Not impressed.

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