Ah, the tube. A blessing and a curse for all Londoners alike. On one hand, an incredible network cleverly sewn together so you are able to get virtually anywhere in the city without the use of a bus (well, north of the river anyway…), yet simultaneously a dark, claustrophobic hell-hole only marginally cooler than Death Valley full of all sorts of people who may well be awful human beings.
I like to think of myself as a very considerate individual. When riding the tube I make a conscious effort to make myself as small and as quiet as possible. I always move down the damn carriage to let as many people on as space will allow, and always let someone else sit down before me. You know what? I’m a bloody delight on the underground, I am the gold-star of underground etiquette, I am the exact person you wish you were stood next to on a sweltering day because i’m never sweaty and always polite. If everyone were more like me on the tube, we’d all have a better day.
But sadly, not everyone is the very shining pinnacle of public transport excellence. There are some real bastards, some horribly unnerving folk and plenty of people that have absolutely no concept of personal space.
So without further ado, if you do any of these five things and ride the tube somewhat regularly, you’d better take a long hard look in the mirror – or start catching the bus instead.
- Stand uncomfortably close to strangers when it’s quiet
If I am ever fortunate enough to ride the tube at a time when it doesn’t resemble a densely populated battery farm, the experience is quickly ruined by people who still think it’s acceptable to stand so close they’re physically touching you. We all know at peak time you shuffle in, avoid eye contact, try not to accidentally touch anyone’s boob, crotch or hand and count the minutes until the ordeal is over, but my god, when there is room to swing a small cat, why on earth stand on top of someone? It’s rude, unpleasant and unnecessary and I will immediately and without hesitation assume you are a total weirdo.
- Share a seat with a stranger
My first six weeks grappling with the tube was spent riding the central line in the morning from Stratford through to Oxford Circus. Now for those who aren’t aware, the central line has a particularly pronounced “seat thing” on either side of the doors that link the carriages. It’s more of a seat than a similar thing on other lines that have more a “leaning thing” but it’s not a proper “seat-seat”. You with me? No ok, anyway, as a fledgling Londoner, I realised I could nab a place on one of these things in the morning most of the time, which was all fine and dandy until some utter creep came and tried to share it with me. I’m not talking vaguely leaning on it, oh no, i’m talking shuffling me off to the side with their bum cheek touching my bum cheek. No, no, oh fucking no bitch no. I sort of gawped at her and did a very British tut. Who does that? Again, weird, if you’d like to sit down just bloody ask, don’t bum shuffle me off my own damn seat-thing, jeez.
- Stand by the door and refuse to move down the carriage
Oh boy does this grind my gears. I live on the Piccadilly line, and now I know real suffering. I’m willing to stick my neck out and say it’s the worst line to live on. There are problems all the time and it’s constantly crammed with tourists who do literally everything on this list all the damn time. The persistent problems with the line mean it isn’t unusual to find myself stuck on a very busy platform trying to squeeze my way onto a jam-packed carriage. Now sometimes the tube is simply too full, and nobody wants to accidentally give anyone internal bleeding, so you let it go. But there are plenty of times everyone is milling about near the doors like a pack of seagulls who have just seen a discarded sandwich. There is simply no need to do that. It’s actually a more unpleasant journey to stand in these packs, and if everyone just moved down the sodding carriage more of us could get on and actually get to work on time.
- Lay suitcases down all over the floor
Yeah people actually do this. I don’t mean standing a suitcase up in an inconvenient place (annoying but forgivable if it’s busy) I mean actually laying several massive suitcases all over the floor to (I presume) stop them falling over while their owner settles down into a nice seat a few metres away. The mind boggles, on what planet is that ok? It squeezes the already small surroundings into something roughly the size of two-person lift. Who is that inconsiderate? Utter bastards, that’s who.
- Let children run amok
Holy moley do unruly kids on the tube piss me off. It’s a surprisingly rare sight I must be honest; there has only been a handful of occasions where kids have behaved staggeringly poorly on the underground while a parent is deeply engaged in a chat over a latte, or gazing at their Iphone while totally ignoring their little brat, but occasionally it happens.
The most shocking moment I can recall was when I was sat on the seat next to the clear plastic (I don’t think it’s glass but if i’m wrong do let me know) and next to me was a child literally licking it. And very unsuccessfully trying to climb it too. I get being a parent must be tough, and sometimes kids just won’t bloody listen, but being so engaged in Candy Crush you fail to notice your bundle of joy is licking one of the dirtiest pieces of plastic in London is not gold star parenting. Recently nine of the world’s most dangerous superbugs were found on the tube – I even have anti-bacterial hand gel on my desk to de-germ myself when I get to work. Letting your child lick the insides of the underground is the furthest thing from socially acceptable but also one of the most harmful and irresponsible things you could possible do as a parent. Stop looking at your phone and start paying attention to your kid.