Wednesday, 14 April 2010

THAT side is for WALKING

You know when you’re an Official London Workie when thoughts of the Tube begin to fill your waking moments.

You know you’ve truly made it when you use the “walking” side of the escalators.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the cultural divide of the tube escalators. On the “resting” side are:

1. Tourists, with their rucksacks placed inconveniently between their feet – or even worse, on a separate step – so that the straps spill out and potentially trip those of us with better places to go.

2. The leisurely shoppers, perhaps with a coat casually strung over their arm, nonchalantly dreaming of what they’re going to have for lunch

3. The old, infirm and young. Read: nuisances.

On the “Other” side; the “Proper” side; are the rest of us. Those of us who are determined to step on other's toes to secure their space on the tube platform. And woe-betide anyone who tries to blur the boundaries.

I’ve started conducting an internal dialogue in my head with the IDIOTS who decide to stand in the walking aisle, which goes roughly something like this:

“THAT side is for WALKING, you moron. Do you realise that you have created a stampede of traffic behind you, and that you, yes YOU, are personally responsible for London-wide delays on the Underground, and more importantly me being late for the next episode of Glee. Move it, lumpy.”

I once actually saw a pair of Japanese tourists taking pictures of one another at the foot of the escalators. Reeeally? In rush hour? Are trying to incure my wrath? (Note: my wrath is a powerful and much feared force. Just ask the last warden who tried to give me a parking ticket.)
Minor satisfaction is to be had when said unaware moron is yanked into position by a friend standing on the correct side. If they are a moron and a loner, only an inside-lane-overtake will suffice. But make sure you get a slight elbow barge in there to prove your point. Go on, you show them who's boss.

Once you’ve bypassed the escalator-loungers, two factors really prove your Tube-worth:

Platform Position and Exit Point.

Platform Position is only really applicable to split-branches such as the Northern Line or District/Central/Hammersmith overlaps, but when it is, It. Is. Gold.

The casual tube-goer mooches along the platform, and if a train for the wrong branch comes along first, they merely hang back in submission. Fools.

But not me. Oh-ho. Not me. I am a stallion.

Ladies and gentlemen, you want to get a tube seat in rush hour? Then I'm you're girl.
Join the back of the queue for people cramming themselves onto Morden via Bank, even if it's the wrong branch. Stop in front of the doors, ignoring the looks of befuddlement from people inside the carriage. You are now in perfect position for where the doors line up when the correct train comes along. The train always (or at least to my knowledge) stops in the same place.

Aha! See, a Cambridge degree is worth something...

Now you merely wait and give a smug smile to all those standing in the wrong place. (“You think that’s where the doors’ll open, do you? Aw, that's sweet, isn't it? New to London…?”).

The only glitch in this process is that my mother has ingrained in me an irrational fear that there are psychos residing on the tube platform who are going to push me into the path of an oncoming train, so I have to stand backwards, bringing down the cool factor somewhat.

Exit Point (or E.P, as it is known in Army Training Facilities) is more of a matter of knowing which exit applies to which area of the world, and is definite proof of the amount of time you have spent working in London.

The number of occasions I have got off at a multi-exit station and seen “Exit (North),” “Exit (East).”

I'm sorry, what? I barely know my left from my right, let alone which way North is. And darn it, just on the day I left my pocket compass in the barn, along with my tracker bars and emergency flares...

And so I feel that victory is truly mine when I realise that I have successfully worked out which exit correlates to which part of the street, and, after a few day’s unsuccessful trials, manage to get out at exactly the place I need to be.

If only someone where actually paying me to go out of these exits, everything would be just hunky-dory…

1 comment:

  1. trains do indeed stop in roughly the same place each time. Next time you're down there take a look at the white line on the very edge of the platform. Some places you will see a bunch of footprints in the dust and muck that accumulates. If you stand just in front of it you will exactly line up with the doors when the train pulls up. Have fun in honing your footprint spotting skills and amaze your friends.

    Oh and for the uber busy, get the iPhone app "tube exits" so you can put yourself in the correct carriage to line up with the exit at the other end. This saves you from getting stuck behind all the people who think its ok to amble along the platform like they're admiring the duck pond in st james' park.


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