Before I moved to London, I romanticised the idea of living here. I thought that having my own ‘home’ tube stop was just about the coolest thing that could happen. Now that I’m living in my third London home and I’ve been commuting along the same tube line for over two years, it feels slightly less amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I love this city a lot. But there’s something about queuing up on a platform to have to shove yourself into a tiny bit of space on a tube carriage that is making you ill that isn’t quite magical. Especially when it’s happening before 8.30am, five times per week.
This is the reality of commuting in London.
If you live at a popular station, you won’t be able to get on the first train.
Sometimes I do an (internal) happy dance when I can get on the second train. Sometimes four or five will pass by, with me edging closer to the doors as a few people squeeze on each train as it goes by. It’s havoc for working out when to leave the house in the morning.
You will genuinely be annoyed when you have to wait three minutes for a train.
I thought Londoners were mad for rushing down escalators to get to the platform faster and audibly sighing when a train left just as they arrived. Now I get it. I want my train to sail into the station just as I do.
Get used to people reading over your shoulder.
You better hope your book is good because other people will be reading it, too. No matter if they’re properly peering over your shoulder or glancing at the odd word, they will read, and they will judge you.
Say goodbye to personal space.
Everyone who has commuted (or accidentally got on the train before 9am on a weekday) at rush hour will know that personal space goes out of the window. I don’t know how short people cope, quite honestly. At least my head peeks out of the top of the crowd instead of having to stare at people’s chests. If you want to read, expect to have to hold your book above your head.
Do not talk.
Nope, not even if that person just pushed in front of you. And if you’re chatting with a colleague or housemate, keep it quiet. You’re distracting people from reading or quietly contemplating how much they hate their jobs.
Let yourself be shoved.
Trust me, it’s the easiest option. When the whole train wants to get off at Bank but you want to stay on, be prepared for people to shove past you on both sides to get off. Such is life. At least you might be able to grab a seat after they leave.
There is a clear seat hierarchy.
The person furthest into the tube carriage is the heir to the next seat. They always have first refusal. This is only given when they look at aforementioned seat for 0.3 seconds and do not move. Then, preference is given to the second person. Only then can the person at the entrance to the aisle sit in the seat.
So while London may have some amazing perks, and there is no denying that the transport system is (usually) highly efficient, there are very definite downsides.
Do you live in London? If not, have I put you off moving yet?