Underground HeroesSubmitted by w_t_a_y_s_t_r_m at 2007-04-11 07:16:21 EDT
Rating: 2.0 on 38 ratings (38 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
The London Underground. The source of pain for thousands of people everyday. And then there are those of us who are lucky enough to see the few events that can make your day. These events can make it almost seem worthwhile to be pressed so close to a gigantic middle-eastern man he could undo one button and start breast-feeding you. Sure, it smells like piss and crushed rat on account of the people pissing all over the platforms when drunk and the rats getting crushed by the trains (hey Mighty Mouse, that's not how you catch a train hahahahahahahaha oh no, laughed too much, must piss), but like most people who work in the centre of London but live a little way outside it, it's my second home. After six weeks I imagine I've spent more time waiting at the various platforms than I've spent breathing. And trust me, I breath a lot (at least twice a day).
These are two of the individuals, who transcend mankind and become God-like figures in the eyes of all underground travellers who bare witness (that's a massive generalisation based on my own opinion, but it's also true, so it's not my fault).
The particular route I take to work is the busiest of all the lines. At first I assumed this was because people had heard I had started going by that route, but apparantly it has always been like that. The problem is that the East side of the Northern Line goes via London Bridge and Bank, which are two of the biggest business districts in the centre of London. Despite them only being a ten minute walk away, plenty of assholes would still much rather stand on a platform for half an hour until a train comes by with three inches of space which they feel is enough for them to fit on to go the one stop.
And sometimes they're correct, and they can. But then you have to take into account the briefcase, the coat drapped over the arm and the fucking great big broadsheet the pricks insist on opening full whack to look important when they're really just checking out the fashion pages (you'd be surprised how often this really happens). Once you're free of those two areas, the train is still quite full at peak times, but not nearly as bad. Typically I stand at one end or the other and just read a small novel that's actually pretty fucking convient for the rest of the train who don't have to risk life and limb and dodge paper-cuts from a newspaper the size of a car.
One time, there was a man stood next to me who looked to be in his late twenties, pressing buttons on his phone like a lunatic. Both thumbs were going jackhammers as he ploughed the buttons down. Either he was writing the longest message in history, or he was playing a game. As there is no signal whatsoever on the Underground (apart from the bits which aren't quite underground), I decided he was playing a game. This was soon confirmed.
As we approached the next stop the train took a jolt, like they normally do when the driver's hungover or drops his joint or something, and this was quite a violent jolt. Even the people sat down nearly fell over, but mostly because they were foreign (If you're an Englishman in London, you've got to be racist or they kick you out). Everyone steadied themselves on the bright yellow bars that are everywhere. Everyone, except for the man who was too deeply involved in his game. Instead he stumbled backwards a little bit and tried to regain his balance, his thumbs never leaving the keypad, his eyes never leaving the phone screen.
Then his foot caught on someone's back. He took another stumble backwards, still refusing to move his hands or eyes, determined to play his game, but now anyone could see: There was no way this guy was going to regain his balance.
But that didn't stop him. Instead of doing what any normal person would do, he chose to continue his backwards drunken stagger, all the way down to the other end of the train. It wasn't long before his back hit into the far end of the train, which actually steadied him. But then the train stopped, having arrived in the Kennington Station. This gave an equally violent jolt in the other direction, which just sent the man flat on his face.
I imagine things went in slow motion for the poor retard as he came crumbling down, still refusing to remove his hands from his phone, but following everyone's falling instinct: Put your hands out and stop yourself from crushing your own face. But because he had to keep his thumbs on his phone, instead of any reasonable attempt to steady himself, he just looked like he was attempting to dive into the floor of the train. Which he achieved.
There was a crunch as the phone hit the floor. The back flew off, the battery came out, and the bit which was suppose to flip open to answer, went in the wrong direction as the phone snapped in half. The man looked up from the disgusting floor of the train, nothing but disappointment visible. From my distance away I could barely hear him over the engine noise and the regular people sounds of the tube, but it definitly sounded like: "But I had a high score."
Resisting the urge to shout "BITCHED" and start laughing, I held off while other people helped the man back up and recover the parts of his phone. He might have been a moron, but he sacraficed his entire body to get a high score. One thing you cannot fault that man on, was his commitment.
The World's Greatest Boyfriend
As I've already implied, you can sometimes stand at a platform for ages waiting for a train. And sometimes you can stand there for twice as long waiting for a train to come along that you're actually able to fit on.
I've once stood at Oval station for over forty-five minutes before I finally had enough, found the oldest lady I could, threw her off while screaming about how she touched when I was younger, and then took her seat. It was pathetic. Her husband wasn't pleased, but I promised him a pint and all was fine again. Obviously the worst times for this is during the morning (8 - 9) and afternoon (4 - 6) when every other tosser goes to work or goes home.
Two weeks ago I was one of those tossers, trying to get home. I had been stood at Moorgate platform for more than fifteen minutes and five or six trains had gone past, which were just impossible to fit on. It was no-one's fault really. It was just the way things went. You try to travel during rush hours, you've got to expect it. But no-one could explain that to the girl who I was stood near to. Least of all her boyfriend.
Apparantly the state of London's public transport system was his fault.
"Why the fuck isn't the train longer?" She screeched at him.
"Because it wouldn't all fit on the platform." He said, sounding more bored than annoyed at his partner's attitude towards him.
"Well they should make the fucking platforms longer." A train pulls up with no room. "Look at that! They could easily fit a hundred more people on there if they squeezed in a bit more. Why aren't they squeezing in more? Tell them they should squeeze in more." The doors opened and closed without any movement and the train pulled away. "Well it's too fucking late now. You know, you should tell people that they should move down inside the train then we could fit on. Why the hell are there so many people on the fucking trains?"
This barrage of blame and anger continued at the poor guy, along with the occasional whack on the arm with the book she was holding, until the next train pulled up, which was in exactly the same state as all the others before. And this was still his fault of course, and his girlfriend made sure he knew it was his fault.
"Will you just tell them that they need to move down inside the fucking train? You need to phone up the government and tell them they need to make the trains longer, someone should do something about this, why don't you..." She was silenced.
The warning beeps, indicating that the doors were about to close and the train was going to leave in a second or two came. On the last one, the guy made a break for it. He dived in through the open door, where there was barely enough room to put a canary with an eating disorder. But people made room for him. Pity can be a very powerful tool when it's on your side. The doors instantly closed behind him, leaving his girlfriend on the platform alone, with no-one to blame.
The train pulled away and disappeared down the dark tunnel, and she was still shocked to silence. And then she turned to look at everyone surrounding, which was a lot of people.
"Did he just get on that train?" No shit, you idiot. "The selfish fucking bastard!" She screamed. "Why the fuck did he get on the train?" I wasn't sure who she was shouting at now or who she was blaming, but it was definitly someone's fault. "There wasn't any fucking room! The bastard! I'm gonna rip his fucking balls of!"
In her pathetic little tantrum, she slammed her book down on the platform. It gave a slight bounce and disappeared over the side, next to the rail. I couldn't describe the noise that came out from her then. The best I could get to afterwards was thinking it to be like the scream of someone getting tortured, after having their mouth superglued shut.
Scared for my life, certain she would send me over the edge to recover her shitty Jackie Collins or whatever the hell it was, against my will, I shuffled away and down the platform. I don't know if they were Londoners or tourists or what, but I haven't seen them again. Or if I have, she's been sedated. I like to imagine that when the man got off the train at the other end the sun seemed to shine a little brighter, the beer tasted nicer and the general volume of the world got turned down.
For at least a little bit.