The tube, underground or metro, however you call it, is a place full of mysteries. Even fuller of mysteries are the people that embark the said mean of transport. Why they have such a strong magnetic relationship to the door like bees to honey, when they can move down and not have someone breath down their necks is a mystery for which we might need Sherlock Holmes.
Let’s just say that I’ve spent enough time for two years on the tube, to gather a few of these funny mysteries and now I am sharing them with you. This blog post might go into the same category with the one – Things you probably don’t know about London if you never lived here, but then, I suppose the tube is the tube (or metro or underground), so you might recognize these behaviors. That, or if you come from a city small enough, like I do, that will never need a tube…well, I hope somebody does a series about this kind of travelling so we can all enjoy the experience.
Herring line or Jubilee line?
There are tubes and tubes. And then there are lines and lines and if you change them fast enough, you will notice a huge difference. I must start with: don’t use Central line during peak hours if you care for your life. Or, if you would like to empathize with a canned herring and completely rethink what concepts you had about personal space, be my guest.
Jubilee line was my favorite for the longest time. It went through some of my favorite places in London. Because I embarked it in Stratford which is the end/beginning of the line, I would always find a seat and it would be quite empty. Yes, it’s this easy for a tube line to have my heart, but all of this after I experienced herring in the can and the can in the stove that Central line is.
However, Jubilee line was dethroned when I went to visit somebody in the North of London and I had to change to a very suggestively named line – Northern Line. First feeling was as if somebody has finally turned on the lights and spaced out the seats a bit more. Ok, it is not fair that when I experienced Northern Line for the first time, it was not peak hour and I am comparing it to Jubilee on a peak hour, but the tube is not fair making us all wait for it and neither was I.
Now, I thought Northern Line is much more posh, I also knew about it that it is always on time and even better, cuts the pie that London is, right in two, so it takes you many places. And it did take me to many laughing or wondering or wtf places in my mind, every time I saw the things that I am about to describe, because all of them happened on the Northern Line.
Home, sweet (and sour) home
When you travel by tube every day, at the same time and you mostly fight all the same faces for that free seat, it all starts to feel like home. Your home is taking you to work and judging by all the blank/poker faces on the tube, it’s more like your home is force-taking you to work.
Most people will be too busy to play candy crush, some (very few) watch series…yes, the average tube ride is around 30 minutes, but for some it gets an hour long. Even fewer people read. There is only one rule: mind you business! And this rule is actually much more complex than it sounds.
If I were to translate it for you it would be: don’t look anybody in the eye, don’t lean over my seat, I will battle you for the arm rest and you will battle me for it, don’t you dare read from my newspaper if you are sitting next to me, but it’s even more annoying if you’re sitting across from me, and a few more that I will reveal later.
Going back to the people who feel like home, those are the individuals that do weird things. Doing your own makeup is already quite usual so nobody is surprised by that. I am more surprised though, that all the brushes and the products sit in the same dusty makeup bag, but maybe I am just being paranoid.
However, what left a strong impression on me was something else. It was Friday or Saturday evening when I was going home by tube. I don’t know which of these two days because the crowds’ behavior is quite similar. Most of them are cracking cans of beer open (which is illegal), are much more cheerful, are most probably going partying and are loud. All of these things go hand in hand so there is nothing new here.
I was breaking the rule of not looking at people one of these said nights and I was almost starring at the girl that was sitting across from me. She was so beautiful, with very small elegant features but then I noticed the amount of makeup, the much too dark eyebrows, the overdrawn lips and I thought to myself that she must be much more beautiful without makeup.
Right on cue, as if to annoy me even more, she takes out a glue and some acrylic nails and starts gluing them on Friday/ Saturday night on the tube. I could not believe my eyes, is she really this comfortable that she is going to do her manicure on the tube? That was not all! She was wearing a full sequin dress under her coat and sneakers, so when she started doing her nails, it became clear to the entire train/compartment that she is up to no good…well, probably good partying.
After she finished her manicure, I see her leaning down towards her feet. I was motionless, but my eyes said it all. Is it really possible that she is going to do her pedicure next? OMG, what is happening? Why isn’t anybody else reacting, is this normal?
She takes of her sneakers, puts her socks on the floor, steps on them, puts her sneakers in a bag. I was already tempted to close my eyes, I could not believe them, they must be deceiving me, right? And then she takes out a pair of heels, put them on and gets off the tube at the next station.
To be continued, with other similar stories…