10 November 2011

To Heaven Via Hell

There are two hours of my day which I absolutely cannot stand. I hate them more than boiled eggs. And anyone who knows me, knows that that particular hatred runs deep. They are not the hours where I wake up, groggy and delirious, nor are they the ones where I start to get very very tired eyes and the latest best selling novel starts to look like a series of squiggly lines. Nope, they are in fact rush hour - one hour there, and one hour back. For any Londoner (and I'm sure it's similar in other cities too) who works normal hours, there is no getting away from the hell that is the peak time London tube system.

 I love our tube system normally. On a weekend, at say 3pm anyway. It gets me from A to B quickly and easily. Well, that is unless there is a signal problem, or a leaf on the tracks, or a passenger alarm, or a station evacuation, or a fire, or a flood, or a strike, or engineering works.
 Let me walk you through my worst commute this week.

Walk from my house to the station in the pouring rain without an umbrella because everyone else has already nicked them. Get oggled and wooped at by a group of overly friendly builders who tell me to 'cheer up luv'. Thanks, yeah, I'm feeling so much better all of a sudden. Realise I have no money on my oyster card and so join the queue full of disgruntled commuters to top-up, only to find that the machine is not taking coins. Damn. Queue in other queue. Get to platform and think, my, this is even more crowded than normal. Followed by the announcement, "ladies and gentlemen, there are severe delays on the Central Line due to a series of passenger alarms being set off at St. Paul's and a signal failure at Bank." Even better. Time to go home and give up yet? Finally get on moving train which stops before entering every station and is so packed that I can either choose between having my face in smelly breath man's direction, or my backside on his crotch. Definitely the face one. Move down towards the seats and await a lucky seated person to get off and give me their seat, but alas, a seat grabber is around who pushes past me before I even notice someone standing up and sits his large contented bum down. His actions are followed by lots of scowling from me, which I pretend he notices while he reads the latest Lee Child on his Kindle. Finally arrive at destination, not having sat down, and get herded out of the station by the crowds into the bright light of day. Aarrrhhh, sweet sweet fresh air...and rain. Of course.

The Random House offices seem to glow before me. So air conditioned and full of space. Finally, I have reached my destination, even if I did have to go through hell to get there. 

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