LONDON – I feel as though I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the London underground. It gets me around town – and pretty efficiently. It drives me nuts too.
The thing about London transport is taxis are pricey. Buses are slow. Driving is expensive. You’re only real hope is the underground. It’s priced fairly for now and I will say that you can get anywhere in London and quite quickly using this method of transport.
But the experience is often crap. The thing is, it’s not Transport for London’s fault, it’s YOU, the fellow passenger that makes my experience crap sometimes. Here’s why.
1. I understand that we all want to get to work on time and that we want to be able to get on the first train we see when we hit the platform. But come on, do you have to squeeze into the train when it’s full and we’re already packed in like sardines? I can’t tell you how often this happens. Too often and typically on the Central Line. If only people would realise that they just have to wait maybe 2 minutes and the next train will come. NEW RULE: Just wait, the next train’s coming.
2. This next one is gross, but it happens A LOT. And it’s always men! If I had a £10 for every time I’ve seen a guy cough into his hand or wipe his runny nose and then place the same germ-ridden hand onto a handrail, I’ll be able to afford a taxi to work and back each day for a year. Geez, didn’t their parents teach them hygiene in public spaces? Not so. These guys don’t care where they’re coughing or wiping and redistributing their germs. So gross. NEW RULE: Buy waterless liquid soap and don’t forget to use it. And keep that dirty hand away from the rest of us.
3. London’s a pretty progressive city and famously tolerant. But littering is rife on the tube. And it’s tolerated too. Since when is leaving a newspaper (i.e. the London Evening Standard, the Metro or City AM) on a seat not considered littering? People all do it. I’ve heard the argument for it. “Well, I don’t mind. I usually pick up the newspaper and start reading it myself.” Then they in turn leave it on the train and go on their merry way. Any paper left unattended is littering. NEW RULE: Keep your newspapers with you.
4. Nothing’s more annoying than getting off the train and hoping to get to the office in time and finding yourself stuck behind a woman wearing six inch heels and slowly making her way up the stairs. What was she thinking? You don’t wear high heels on the underground. Every woman knows that your shoes just get ruined. And for the sake of everyone else, it takes longer to get out of the station when more women wear heels. NEW RULE: High heels are banned.
5. Another slow group are the parents and their precious young offspring. They always have their bags, bottles and strollers in tow too. They take up lots of space and lots of valuable time as they alight. Then just to spite the rest of us, they let tiny Tim (who’s barely two) walk himself up the stairs and out the station. Slowly! Can’t they just pick up the kid and keep us all happy as we manage a nice pace to the exit? NEW RULE: Parents not allowed to let their small children practice their gait at the station.
6. You arrive at the turnstile and a responsible user of the London underground ALWAYS has her Oyster card TOPPED UP and ready to swipe upon exiting. The most frustrating thing is when Joe Slow pulls out his Oyster card, swipes it and then looks bewildered when the door flaps don’t open and let him exit. He tries again to swipe his card and maybe just one more time for good luck. By this time about three of us are lined up behind him and we’re not happy…In these situations, it takes a while for Joe Slow to concede defeat, move away and find some staffer to help him. Boy I’m happy when he finally does. NEW RULE: Don’t be a fool, top up your oyster card before you get on the tube. And get to the back of the line.
Am I missing any?