Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The London Commuter's Creed


Becoming a London commuter is like being part of a special club. Like any big city, the rush to and from work comes with a code of behaviour that everybody learns to follow:

I will always appear to be in a hurry. Even if I'm 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

I will never, ever make eye contact with another person on a train or bus. And if necessary, I will hide behind a newspaper so I can pretend I'm traveling alone.

I will stand as close as possible to the doors of the trains in the Underground, so people can just barely get by me - that way I can get on first.

I will roll my eyes at people who sneeze or cough during cold season (even if I've got a cold myself).

On Friday afternoons, I will produce cold cans of Foster or Stella from inside my bag to drink in front of (and possibly spill on) other people.

If I'm a teenager, I will make sure to be as loud as possible, making sure to include "F" this and "F" with every sentence so my friends and the other people traveling know how cool (and loud) I am.

If I'm not sure where I'm going, I'll ask for help even though there are signs on every wall providing maps and directions.

If I'm a tourist, I'll repeat "moind the gap" and the name of every single train stop with a terrible British accent. *

I will listen to my iPod as loudly as possible. So everybody can enjoy my music too.

If I'm pregnant, elderly, or using crutches, I will stand in front of people sitting down and give them the evil eye until they give me their seat. **

I will dress in layers to accomodate the extreme temperature differences between the cold of outside and the sauna-like heat of the Underground.

If I'm eating, I'll be sure to leave my trash (including uneaten food) on the trains because people will clean the train at the end of the line.

When there are delays in the Underground, I'll curse and swear under my breath, but when the person beside me makes a comment, I pretend I can't hear them.

Given the opportunity, I will run up the "down" stairs, race around people queuing up, go the wrong way through the Tube stations (and will not care if people going in the right direction have to dodge around me), and squeeze onto an already full elevator because I'm in such a hurry.

I will complain about the people who take up more than one seat, but if I get the chance, will doe exactly the same thing (my bag is a lot happier in the chair beside me).

I will drink, smoke, and swear on the night buses.***

I will talk on my mobile for as long as possible, and will compose text messages when the network is not available in the Underground.

I will get through the commute each day by reading newspapers, drinking bottles of water, talking on my mobile, and being thankful for not having to drive through the streets of one of the world's busiest cities.

I will complain every day about how awful the transportation in this city is, but when traveling in a different place, will brag about how much better everything is in London.

* I must admit to doing this myself for the first couple of weeks.
** I'm not saying they shouldn't have the seats, but it's hilarious to watch them glare at people as soon as they walk onto the buses or trains.
*** This is even funnier to watch - people either don't care and will go as far as rolling then smoking a joint on the bus, or they'll be very paranoid (but still wanting to impress their moron friends) so they'll try to hide the billowing smoke coming from under their hands.


  • At 8:02 AM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    Ummm, I'm not sure that I want to be part of this club.
    I think those are the joys of public transportation. Although for some reason I think the Go train in Toronto is a little better than that. Probably because it's above ground... Yeah I don't know why that would be the case but I'm finding a random difference and blaming that.

  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger Suldog said…

    Heh. The "GO" train. MY WIFE and I still joke about the bilingual signs for that - Go Train, Train Go. Sounds like something from a first-grader's book.

    This is funny stuff, M. I've been to London six or seven times, as I may have mentioned before. On the first trip, when I was around 12 or 13, my parents and I did the "mind the gap" thing to the extreme. We thought it was so quaint we actually took photos of the signs. We got better on succeeding trips.

  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger Melinda said…

    Heehee - Sully that's hilarious - it's the first indication that somebody is a tourist in the Underground. (and I totally did it for the first few weeks here)

    They actually have souvenir mugs, t-shirts, and of course - thong underwear with "Mind the Gap" proudly inscribed in bright red letters. Gotta love British wit ;)

  • At 1:17 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    Thongs with "Mind The Gap"? That's funny!


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