London tubes..or the London Underground…oh the joys. Ok so it’s not that bad. The odd sweaty armpit, alcohol breath in your face first thing in the morning or being inconveniently squashed into the poles as you’re smaller than others – but luckily that’s the worst I’ve dealt with. You learn to try and avoid the aggressive and confrontational folk when they board…they obviously fell out of the wrong side of bed that morning!
But the tubes are always the same! The dead quiet unless friends are commuting together, the awkward shifting of eyes so not to look at one another no matter how close or far away from each other you are. And then someone sneezes…and as it’s so quiet people don’t know whether to say those two small words or not, “bless you”. Will they look at you funnily because you broke the unspoken rule of silence?
I was on the tube last night on my way home, standard journey home, nothing exciting or unexpected. I had a tube driver who was OTT on information…I couldn’t count the number of times we were held at a red signal, even when we were still moving! It was like he was trigger happy, unable to wait a second whilst the train was still moving to see if it’d clear before filling the carriages with the female voice telling us “we are currently being held at a red signal”. Then I started to think of the tube driver and platform attendants at stations – oh how they differ.
Not many times have I had a tube driver like yesterday. However, I’m sure you will have experienced the grumpy ones, the ones who get angry because a bag got caught in the door, saying “it’s not that hard to keep clear of the doors”, getting fed up with others leaning against the doors of a packed train – and I understand I do, it must get annoying when it happens constantly and it slows you down, but do they need to express it outwardly.
Then I thought about those happy chappies. The ones who wish you a good morning, make jokes and generally have a cheery voice and personality. Don’t you go to work so much happier?
And so I started wondering, what if tube drivers and platform attendants had to go through personality screening and auditions in the interview process. Imagine every tube driver and platform attendant being a smiley, bright, jolly individual…do you think journeys would change? Do you think this would bring the end to the unspoken rule of silence and shifting eyes incase your gaze is caught by another?
I seriously think it could have an effect. Think about it, before smart phones and technology you either had a newspaper or each other, people more freely spoke to one another at stations waiting for trains. I bet it was a much friendlier place.
I once had a tube driver who was making jokes about the day and the delay on one of the lines. People started looking up and laughing, their eyes not averted to their phones, the floor or posters above the seats, but looking at each other. Some even spoke…bet you’re shocked!
Can you imagine if the tube driver on your tube on Monday morning started a sing song? Surely that would loosen everyone up – carolling to work at Christmas, mr blue sky in spring? The thought makes me giggle, and maybe I’ve gone a little mad with that thought, but seriously if we had more jolly, bubbly people directing us on the way to work, perhaps the commute wouldn’t be so miserable, perhaps people would talk and more people would meet newbies – a lot of people do comment on how lonely london can be!
Got you thinking didn’t i?