The politics seen on the London Underground is not all that different than the politics seen in government. It’s ruthless, confusing, competitive and full of unattractive, egotistical middle-aged men. The general rules are also quite similar, in that no one actually understands them but everyone must abide by them.
I am going to share a few of the basics when traveling on the tube. Hopefully, not everyone has to learn the hard way.
Getting a seat: strategically speaking, it is not always in your best interests to get a seat, especially if you board early on and then run the risk of having to crowd surf your way out in under two seconds before the doors close. If you are keen for a seat then I suggest you use every Darwinistic instinct you have, be it stalking, hunting in packs, singling out the weak link or waiting for your prey to make the first move before you pounce.
What’s mine is yours: many people cannot be bothered to plan ahead and provide their own reading material, so expect yours to be shared. The trick to this one is to never read things that can be taken out of context such as text messages discussing the great BBQ you went to last night where the was lots of sausages, buns, cans and a roast.
When to give up your seat. this is always a tough one because there are a lot of overweight, unhealthy looking people in London who can easily be confused with those who qualify for the priority seats. It’s a complete gamble and the odds are often not in your favour. In these situations I tend to eyeball the youngest person sitting down and telepathically suggest they stand up. This way I feel like I have made an effort, without running the risk of having my head ripped off by an angry overweight woman.
Standing close to people: judging from the pale and scrawny looking men who populate the city of London, I dare say there is a good chance you are not going to want to nuzzle up close to one of them. But this doesn’t change the fact that at some point in time you are going to be face-raped by an armpit that has never seen the likes of deodorant, soap or even water for that matter. If you are not wearing a scarf you can muzzle yourself with, I suggest you overcompensate for the two of you with a perfume bath…and the second you get home, an actual bath.
Wait, the driver has something important to say! I remember the first time the conductor made an announcement and I listened intently because I thought it was something of importance. Turns out the drivers pretty much have free reign over what they would like the entire train to know, including bitching about other trains, starting songs to pass the time when there is a delay and singling out the gentlemen in the gray coat who did not understand the term ‘stand clear doors are closing’.
Leaving your rubbish is NOT littering: back at home if you leave your free, read and ruffled paper on the seat it is considered littering and you get slapped with a big fine. But over here, people do it every day and walk off with a spring in their step and a smile on their face feeling like they have just done their good dead for the day. Why would I want your crappy old one if I could get a fresh one of my own at any stop?
The right way and the wrong way: last and possibly most importantly, once you disembark the tube and navigate your way through the station you are likely to come across an escalator. If you choose to let the machinery do the work for you, you must do so on the right and brace for the torrent of busy commuters to push past you on the left.
It could always be worse