Tube of sardines

22 Oct

Yesterday I made the mistake of taking the Tube around 5:15 p.m. Not only was it rush hour, but there was also “engineering” going on which caused delays. I stood patiently at the Bond Street stop, watching the station fill with more and more people waiting for the Jubilee line. After a good 10 to 15 minute wait, they announced a train was approaching. I expected full-on pandemonium as people pushed to get to the front. And then I remembered I wasn’t in China. Instead, everyone approached the yellow line in an orderly fashion, minding the gap and patiently waiting for all the passengers to get off before attempting to board the train. I think part of that was manners, but it was also because the train was so jam-packed that no one could enter if they wanted to unless people got off. Finally we boarded the train. It’s hard to describe the mentality — it wasn’t “I will push you over to get on this train” Chinese mentality, but there was also no “After you, my good sir.” It was a quiet determination. More “I will try my best not to trample or push you, but I am getting on this train.”

We were a few people short of this.

I’ve ridden the red line after a Cubs game, so I know sardine-can trains, but this was still the most crowded train I have ever been on. I stood near the door grasping the upper handle. As we began to move I realized a guy standing back-to-back with me was not holding onto anything. The train was so packed that he was using me as a brace. So whenever the train jerked forward, I had his entire weight pressed against me.

“Oh please do not let this train break down,” the woman across from me said. The woman next to her agreed and we all exchanged that “Can you believe this? It’s so bad it’s almost funny,” look. Thankfully I only had to go a couple stops, but it was the longest most uncomfortable five minutes. And to think people deal with this on a daily basis…

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