January 30, 2010
What is it about public transport that sends us doolally?
Seriously! Does Transport for London release some sort of chemical agent into the air that makes us all go a little Margot Kidder in the mornings? Or is there something inherently wrong with the human race which prevents us from travelling sanely with one another?
Since I’ve moved to London I have watched with increasing alarm the risks my fellow passengers are willing to take to ensure they get from platform to carriage on the first attempt. Just to be spared the embarrassment of having to wait the two minutes it takes for the next one to arrive.
With scant regard for their own, or anybody else’s safety, kamikaze commuters fling themselves at carriage doors, more willing to risk serious injury (or at least mortification) than gamble with being five minutes late for their soulless nine to fives.
With their briefcase and Starbucks raised above their heads, they charge at the speed of light towards their metal nemesis, ducking and diving between Zimmer frames and wheelchairs, pausing only when they reach an escalator, where they’ll patiently stand until they reach the
top or bottom, and take flight once more.
It’s as if all the workers in the city have been pre-programmed to revolt whenever they hear the words: “Stand clear of the closing doors.” Like Old Blue Eyes in the Manchurian Candidate, once uttered, usually reasonable commuters lose all sense of reason and launch themselves, like heat-seeking missiles, at already swollen carriages, crashing into startled old ladies whose own position is secured by the most perilous of finger clenches.
So why do they do it? Do they get some kind of sexual thrill bouncing themselves off metal? Do the sliding doors provide some sort of kink I have deprived myself of? Or are those extra few moments in bed or on the couch with Fiona Phillips (RIP) really worth risking life and limb for?
For while I can understand the desperate need to put as much distance between oneself and the pig ignorant underground staff, enraging a carriage full of overworked, under paid commuters can’t be the best way to start your day.
Worse still, should you miss and get pulled under, you are just going to further delay the poor buggers on the Circle Line who have already waited through countless signal failures, a struggle to remove a series of chronic masturbators and a rouge bag of groceries apprehended at Monument and suspected of containing enough explosives to blow up the entire system.