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Whatever you do – don’t delay the tube

November 13, 2009

I’ve had my head jammed in between the tube doors. It was because of a mad dash to make the train. After the big knock, I realised my bag was wedged in so tight, rendering me 100 per cent stuck. The train was stopped and like a fly caught in a web, I began to wiggle around as though having an epileptic fit. After a substantial amount of squirming, a man in thick-rimmed glasses with a goofy smile asked if I was okay. I replied with an exasperated ‘NO!’ and so the two of us began to try and launch myself out from the doors. After what felt like a lifetime but was probably 45 seconds, he pulled me free and I looked across the carriage of about twenty faces. Utter mortification!

‘Well, I won’t do that again,’ I said in a jolly voice as I mocked wiping my forehead. Apparently lightheartedness and humour are good in tense situations. The train started to move, thank god. My head still hurt and my new Venetian bag was well and truly bent out of shape. The man who had helped me laughed in my support, but the girl next to me opened her mouth, stared me straight in the eye (very unusual for a London commuter) and said, ‘we were stopped at the platform because of you’. Ouch! And she had to be a freaking Australian too, didn’t she? At which point I took a seat, bowed my throbbing head, closed my eyes and pictured a large rock (a boulder even) with myself underneath it.

I’ve complained about the tube before here but this experience reminded me of one reason why it’s pretty cool. If something is obstructing the doors, the tube won’t move. This is incredibly relieving. When I was seven and in New York, my family and I were on the train and stopped at a platform. A man was doing the ‘mad dash’ but only his foot made it on the train which like my bag and me, was wedged in the doors. The  train started to move, and so did the man’s wedged foot (the rest of him was jogging alongside the train on the platform). Instantly a huge cry went out as the American commuters began to scream and yell and bang on the carriage doors, ‘Oh my gawd! Stop the train! Stop the train!’ My Dad repeatedly kicked his foot until eventually he was free. Yeah, the train wasn’t delayed at all (you London commuters will be happy to know) but I think at the age of seven I’d come close to having a stroke.

So, moral of the story is, I will no longer be doing the ‘mad dash’. When I see doors closing, I will patiently wait for the next tube, aware that delaying the train is bad for my mental (and physical) welfare. Although, I probably got off light compared to this fella who copped some nasty abuse from a platform conductor after he complained about getting his arm stuck in the door. I don’t get it either.

To read more about the old man who was verbally abused by tube platform staff for delaying the tube, read this article.

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