Not Many Gentlemen on the Early Commute
Had to take the early train into London this morning in order to turn in our passports for our Russian visas. This was my second effort as the first time; our Letters of Introduction weren’t acceptable. Both times, I went in early so I would get to the Russian Visa place early enough to spend a bit of time in London and to take care of any problems if I possibly could OR to go to the one other location where I might get a Russian visa but would cost me a heck of a lot more money.
Trains in the morning at 12 coaches long. People in the know walk to the far end of the platform because there’s probably a good chance to get a seat on coaches’ number 10, 11 or 12. That was the case this morning although I just barely managed to find a seat before it was full and there were several women left standing and not a single man looked up from his paper to see if there was anyone less abled or pregnant or anything. Not a single woman looked up either though so people are just not willing to give up their seats in the morning. I wasn’t either.
I had to go from Waterloo to Barbican Underground station. It is not the easiest station to get to even though it has three undergrounds running past it. First time, I only used two undergrounds but managed to get lost because the Metropolitan line seems to have numerous tracks and platforms at the station where I was so I thought I’d go a different way today and maybe it would be easier.
I chose to go from Waterloo via the Waterloo and City line to Bank Station. It only goes between Waterloo and Bank station. I’m following the signs and when I get to the entrance, it is backed up all the way up the stairs and all the way up the ramp. You could tell when a train arrived as the people would move forward a little ways and then stop until the next train arrived. It only took me two times stopping and waiting before I was on the platform and able to move down a ways to where I would hope to get onto the next train.
The train arrives empty since it is only running between the two stops; it has let everyone off and now comes to pick up the people going back the other way. There were station personnel announcing “Leave a wide gap in the middle for all people to exit the train” over and over again and then “Use all doors to enter the train and move all the way into the train” and finally “The doors are shutting now, do not get on the train, there will be another train shortly”. I was close enough to be able to get on this train after everyone got off but just as I got on, the last seat was taken. I am moving into the center of the aisle so I am standing in the middle of the car in front of 5 men, all of whom have their noses buried in a newspaper. I turn around and look at the other side. Same thing. Standing next to me are several men and several women, some of whom look to be more tired than me and older than me. I’m looking up and down the car and see several women who need a seat, one being pregnant and YES, one man gets up and lets her take his seat. Not a single other man even looked around him to see if someone else needed a seat more than he did. There were very few women sitting down but they all looked like they needed the seats.
I understand that going to work through this madhouse every day probably is very tiring and very hard to bumper car your way through the subways but still, it would be nice if there were people still able and willing to let someone else less able to sit. I’m hanging by the overhead bar and I can reach it. The poor lady next to me is on her tiptoes to reach it. Luckily it is crowded enough that she’s not going to fall over should she lose her grip.
I reach Bank and exit the train along with everyone else and plot my next move to get to Barbican. I figure out I can take one more train to Moorgate, change there and then one stop more to Barbican. The train from Bank to Moorgate was not any better. Crowded, crowded. This time, I did not make the first train as I was standing on the platform. The station personnel start announcing the same/similar mantra as they did at Waterloo “Make a large gap down the middle so people can exit the train. Do not get on until people have exited the train” and then segue into “Use all doors and move all the way into the train” and finally “The doors are closing. There is another train right behind this one. Please wait”…
He made the final announcement just as I was about to see if I could squeeze onto the train but it was pretty packed with one man standing so close to the edge that I thought the door would hit him. So I didn’t get on. Then someone got off and that made a space but the station man was still saying “The doors are closing” so I didn’t move. Two younger and much thinner ladies ran up and jumped onto the train right in front of me and squeezed into the mass of humanity. The doors still didn’t close which was good because one of those ladies had to divest herself of backpack and coat or the door would have hit her for sure. Finally the doors did close and no one was hit and the next train was right behind it.
I made it on this time and moved all the way into the train and luck was with me because the doors on my side opened when we got to Barbican so I was first off the train.
Thank goodness I was only going one stop though because all the seats were taken again and nobody got up for anybody.
Coming back was much better as there were seats every time on each underground and I made it home without too much trouble. Tomorrow I get to repeat the procedure to pick up our visas but it will be much later in the day. We’ll see how it goes on coming home.