Friday, 1 November 2013

Individual aspirations in a communal space, or, getting thumped on the tube

A woman thumped me on the Northern line this morning.

No, really. She thought I was pushing in line, so she walloped her arm out across my chest to stop me getting on the train, causing actual bruising.

I wasn't pushing in, but even if I was, corporal punishment by rogue vigilante citizens is probably not the best way to deal with such breaches of the social contract.

"People who wear so much perfume that it makes me choke should be shot."
"People who blare music out of those shitty leaky iPod headphones should be shot."
"People who think it's possible to read the Metro while walking briskly in a straight line should be shot twice, once for impeding the flow of foot traffic and once for their choice of reading material."

I have genuinely thought all of these things while taking part in the twice-daily battle that is Getting To Work Via The Underground. I have recently discovered that London has as many inhabitants as Scotland, Northern Ireland, North-East England and North-West England put together, which kind of explains why it's so fucking hard to get a seat on the Northern line. With millions of people sardined into a ridiculously small, old, frequently malfunctioning space, it's not surprising that tempers run high, with the smallest perceived slight provoking a storm of outraged tuts. It's such a Hobbesian, individualistic free-for-all, everyone desperately focused on their own needs to the point where they don't even see other people, except as obstacles; some days I hear the faint sound of hedge fund managers donning black capes and yodeling "KILL THE PIIIIIIIG!".

So I understand the urge to impose some kind of order, to stand up to selfish behaviour. I just don't think thumping people is the way to go about it. Two wrongs, like your mama always said.

I'm now trying to come up with better things to think when faced with such unholy transgressions as Leaving A Twelve Inch Gap Between Yourself And The Person Ahead Of You (WASTING VALUABLE CARRIAGE SPACE) or Overzealous Application Of Charlie Red (my perfume knowledge stops at about 1996, the last year I was able to smell them without choking). Wishing violence on the perpetrators of such heinous crimes leaves a rather bitter taste in one's mouth, especially after a thorough thumping.

"People who wear such perfume that it makes me choke should be sat down and informed that perfume sensitivity is a thing, and asked to adopt a 'less is more' approach."
"People who blare music out of those shitty leaky iPod headphones should be asked whether or not they consider their fellow travellers human beings, and, if so, why they think their right to listen to Celine Dion at maximum volume outweighs the right of thirty other people not to listen to Celine Dion, ever."
"People who think it's possible to read the Metro while walking briskly in a straight line should be requested to attend an army-style boot camp where they must perform rigorous feats of physical endurance, keeping their eyes on the Metro the entire time. Participants will be graded both on their athletic performance and retention of information from the rubbish free newspaper, with a passing grade being contingent upon adequate scores in both arenas."

Don't thump people, kids.


  1. I think it's FINE to think these things, as long as you don't act on em like that ghastly woman!

    well that's what my therapist says anyway

    1. We should start a joint tumblr called "My therapist says..."

      I dunno, I find it just makes me angrier if I dwell on them, plus I find I'm more likely to act on things I think frequently and without analysing them. Not that I think I'm gonna shoot the next person who beats me to a seat, but if I keep my thoughts running along those lines, I think of them less as a person and more as an enemy, and I JUST WANT TO BE GOOD, AYANA

    2. yeah but you are, without question, SUPERGOOD. So don't beat yourself up about sliiightly nasty thoughts.

      If I ever feel I'm dehumanising a commuting ENEMY too much, I just imagine them aged 2 learning to potty train and crying for their mum, and then I think awww we are all vulnerable flawed humans and it's fine