I got to thinking about my experiences when travelling on the London Underground Tube system (metro by any other name) in the last few years.
In one month, the Central Line, was totally disrupted by people throwing themselves in front of trains. I kid you not. (That’s the orange one on the tube map that goes from east to west and vice versa). That line, sadly, seems to have more than its fair share of such episodes.
We passengers were kept informed as much as was decent and sensible. There is every attempt to stop trains partially or fully overground,if possible. People talked to one another. One guy phoned his work to explain why he would be late in for his Sunday shift at Harrods. He admitted to me he wasn’t a good timekeeper and the work response wasn’t too sympathetic. We got to talking about other routes we might use to reach our destinations when we got to a station.
At Bond Street, a member of staff told me what he knew about events. Some people’s responses when such incidents occurred, he described as diabolical; like “finish the job off and keep moving.”
On the same line, late morning, on a school day,I have seen a smart young guy, say twenty-ish, push drugs at very young kids, who were there for the purpose. One tiny kid (possibly thirteen years old), was well away. I distracted my young sprog, who was with me, by chatting to an older girl who was not buying. I often wonder what her role was. Maybe she was the ‘look out’.
On the Northern Line, the black one, that seems to go just about everywhere and anywhere except where you think it will, but essentially serves North to South, I have chatted with a senior Caribbean lawyer on holiday; some African ladies in the most glorious of costumes, off to engagements or weddings; been offered a kiss by a dyslexic for helping him on his way; and was given the opportunity to ‘read’ an early development model of an electronic book. I don’t know who the manufacturer was. Its potential was obvious.
At a busy interconnecting station I have seen a sick person on a platform, a number of people besides me, checked what help if any could be given. Everyone, was careful not to get too close, but they were genuinely concerned and let their trains go. In her conscious moments she was able to talk, saying her friend was getting assistance.
I’ve had really little kids fighting to sit on my suitcase so they can peer over their peers, rather than be lost and frightened at below knee level, or be bumped around where no seats existed for mum or aunty or whoever, to seat them on their laps. We’ve had some great chats about the ‘pictures’ on the trains, and one time, a very bright little soul was beautifully describing what he had seen above ground. His mum apologised for the nuisance.!!!!