London Commuting Woes

Sunny Street

Sunny Street

The tube in the heat is a nightmare.

Sweaty compressed bodies and endless delays.

Yesterday it took double the time it usually takes to get to work.

Kings Cross had closed some gates in an effort to stem the crowds, the Hammersmith was late, over crowded and stalled at Edware road for what felt like an eon.

Too hot and sweaty to bother with my inter-connection lateness run.

I ended up being 30 mins late, compared to my average of 15.

The usual sorry-I’m-running-late text to my boss and that the train really was delayed didn’t allay my guilt.

I cried wolf too many times.

Wore my “No boyfriend, no problem” t-shirt. Given to me by my mother. It is one of my favourite tees ever. Such a cheezeballs.

Saw a lady crying on the tube this morning.

It was not even 9. She was on the phone and had her fingers compressed tightly over her mouth, the way people do when they want to stifle the sound or want to mask the way their mouth curves downward, like cup held upside down.

Another lady sat next to me, noticing, got up and asked her if she wanted to sit.

On a packed Hammersmith line this is indeed an act of true charity.

But I confess that although the lady offering up her seat meant well, I disapproved.

It was a little tactless I thought, and coming from a person distinctly lacking in social graces or diplomacy that is saying a bit.

There is an unspoken rule, (and if there isn’t, there should be) that if you see a person crying in public (and especially on public transport where there is no escape or place to hide) that unless the person is physically injured or ill,  you pretend you haven’t noticed.

Because you may or may not know from personal experience, that there is nothing more humiliating that being caught crying publicly, and how deeply embarrassing it is when someone asks you if you are ok.

You want everyone to just continue listening to their iPods, and reading their Metros – nothing to see here folks.

You don’t make eye contact with anyone.

If someone notices, it only grates on your nerves . Someone offering assistance, only mortifies.

The crying lady on the tube demurred emphatically, declining to take the other lady’s seat and turned away a step.

As to be expected.

What else could she do?

I would have done the same, silently annoyed that this person couldn’t just pretend to ignore me like everyone else.

People complain about the anonymity of large cities, and of public transport, the lack of eye contact. But it’s rather comforting to be invisible sometimes.

To be crying from Paddington to Hammersmith, once you leave the tube you can pretend it never even happened.


8 thoughts on “London Commuting Woes

  1. I am a copious weeper. And yes, I’d be grateful for anonymity. Kind gestures would only make me bawl more. 🙂

  2. through your experiences I know now more and more why I didn’t feel ‘at home’ in London.

    This is such a well depicted scene – thanks for writing it down.

  3. Pingback: Delicate Tropical Flowers Need Warmth « Tin Roof Press

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