Happy tales from the tube
I’ve worked from home for many years, so it is some time since there was any sort of regular commute in my life. That all changed for nine weeks recently when I had to resume journeys on the tube so as to get to a Crown Court where I was serving as a juror on a long trial. That experience in itself has, not surprisingly, provided much food for thought, and will no doubt be the subject of future musings for damesnet.
But to return to the question of transport: I was fortunate in that my journey consisted of a tube ride with no changes, so it was much easier than some of my fellow jurors’ experiences. And yes the carriages were always full to bursting on the way in, and yes I sometimes had to wait on the platform for the next train to come as I simply couldn’t squeeze any part of myself into the minute space in between one person’s arm and another’s back. But what really astounded me was how extremely pleasant everyone was, even when their face was virtually rammed into a fellow traveller’s armpit.
Some days it seemed that every third woman had a ‘Baby on Board’ badge. Yet equally remarkable was how as soon as one of these badge-wearing people appeared, at least two others would promptly jump up to offer her a seat. And this in a crowded carriage where you would have thought there was zero room to manoeuvre. No one had to be asked to ‘move right down the carriage’ – they just did. People with children were similarly looked after – whatever you think about whether children should have priority over adults when it comes to seats, the fact is that a lighter body that does not have arms long enough to strap hang is more likely to fall over should the train come to a sudden stop, which I witnessed on one occasion.
One day, by chance, I was part of a female bonding exercise with two fellow passengers; a woman had managed to get into the carriage, but as the doors closed she had not bent her head forward enough, so as a result one of the doors bashed her head. I was right next to her and she seemed fine until she turned her face towards me to display a thick black dirty smudge across her forehead. I exchanged glances with another woman standing next to me and we nodded in agreement – no words were needed. I got out a mirror from my bag and explained to the injured party what had happened. She looked horrified at the sight of the destruction wrought on her carefully made up face. Meanwhile my new friend on the other side had already produced a pack of wipes. As the train lurched along I held the mirror while the wounded one scrubbed her face clean, then did an impressive repair job with foundation and blusher. Once the operation was finished, we all went our separate ways; it was very satisfying.
I got to court that day and mentioned what had happened to one of my fellow jurors; he capped my story with a wonderful tale of how once he was on the tube sitting next to a woman, who gradually fell asleep on his shoulder. Fifteen minutes later he arrived at his stop, but was unsure as to what to do regarding his sleeping neighbour. Another guy seated opposite had sized up the situation; he came over, and as my friend got up the other passenger slid into his seat and took on the role of portable pillow. The woman carried on sleeping happily.
What a lovely bunch of people..