All for one…

This morning my train was delayed due to a “passenger being taken ill” on board.

My first clue that something wasn’t right was when a man entered from the adjoining carriage and woke me up by screaming “IS THERE A DOCTOR ON BOARD!??”

No reaction.

“PASS IT DOWN!”

No-one did.

He stood there for a few seconds, shot everyone a contemptuous look and headed back to his carriage.

Once I’d wiped away the drool from my mouth and the shoulder of the woman next to me, I looked out the window and saw we were just outside Clapham Junction, the busiest train station in the UK.  I then looked at my watch and saw that we were running 40 minutes later than usual.

What the fuck?

I soon discovered it was something to do with signalling problems/electrical issues/leaves on the track/frost.  [Delete as applicable…take your pick]

It was at this point, as the train slowly trundled into Clapham Junction (the busiest train station in the UK), that I noticed an unnatural silence in the carriage.  At first I thought it might be due to concern for our fallen comrade in the other carriage, but I soon concluded it was because everyone was thinking the exact same thing as me….

“Don’t stop the train, don’t stop the train, don’t stop the train, don’t stop the train…..”

‘Crackle’

Oh no.

‘Fizz’

Oh shit.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your conductor speaking…”

Please no.

“…it appears the alarm has been pulled in one of the carriages…”

Ah, dammit!

“…owing to someone being taken ill on board.”

Here we go…

Now, I’ve ranted about the delays caused by those ‘taken ill’ before, but that was about the afflicted being on the platform, whereas this time it was someone actually on the train.

After multiple “apologies for the delay” and “awaiting a first-aider” announcements, it occurred to me….

Just take them off the train.

I mean, how ‘ill’ was the person if all we were waiting for was a first-aider?  At no point did the announcements say we were awaiting a surgeon…or a mortician; so why not take them off the train and treat them in the cool, refreshing morning air?

Nope.  As a lot of us feared, the inevitable happened.

The speakers crackled and fizzed to life again and the conductor suggested it might be a good idea we all leave the train and board another one.  After all, there were plenty of trains heading into London as this was Clapham Junction; the busiest train station in the UK.

As you can imagine, this went down as well as a vegan’s fart in a broken elevator with the packed masses who were already very late for work.

Now, I’ve estimated a train carriage holds over 100 people and this was a 12 carriage beast packed tighter that Tom Jones’ trousers, so in effect we had over 1200 rats fleeing a sinking ship.  That’s 1200 moaning, tutting, multi-directional shuffling zombies joining the crowds at the busiest train station in the UK; all heading towards platform 14 to join other equally packed trains full of scowling, miserable sods all unwilling to ‘move down the carriage using all available space’.

Amongst the crowds and mayhem I found a gap on platform 14 and, whilst silently congratulating myself, smugly waited for the next London-bound sardine tin.  Soon enough it pulled up and I discovered why there had been a gap on the platform; I was stood equidistantly nowhere near the train doors.

I couldn’t have positioned myself better if I’d tried.

The doors opened and people started piling off the train.  The rest of us glared at them as we watched the ever increasing space form behind them like a tin of cookies at a Weight-watchers meeting.  I began sizing up my fellow commuters to see who I could take down if the need arose.  The small Chinese woman, the man in front of me with the rucksack, the woman checking her make-up in a portable mirror; I reckon I could take them all with a well placed elbow here and a careful headbutt there.

As it turned out we all got on board.

Lucky bastards.

Mind you, some dude had my arse in his face all the way into London.

Lucky bastard.

Anyway, we arrived into Victoria almost an hour later than usual and everyone made a beeline for the underground station which, for some reason, wasn’t busy at all.  It was actually a breeze getting through the barrier and I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why th……

Oh wait, it was 09:25am.   Of course it was quieter; most people were actually AT work!

Oh well, at least the tube would be a nice end to this nightmare journey.

‘Crackle’

Oh no.

‘Fizz’

Oh shit.

“We apologise that, due to a signalling failure at Brixton, the Victoria line is subject to major delays in both directions”.

Maybe someone should call a first-aider.

Quickly.

Faint

Fire at the end of the tunnel

This morning’s train journey into work has been a cavalcade of events.

The first annoyance was some tracksuited rudeboy who looked a lot like Akon boarded the train and sat there with headphones on talking into his phone like it was a walkie talkie.

I hate when people do that (see https://headinablender.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/hello-is-anyone-actually-there/)

His voice was a combination of Jamaica and African with a hint of stoner and a large splash of penis. He spoke incredibly loudly and nobody seemed to want to sit near him for some reason.

As the train decided to crawl at fuck all miles per hour, constantly being stopped at red signals and awaiting platforms at various stations, the monotony of the journey was broken by two guards who were checking tickets in tandem.  At first I thought they were doing half a carriage each to save time, but no…we had to provide evidence we’d paid for this embarrassment of public transport a second time.

What I did revel in slightly was the fact that Akon didn’t have a valid ticket. I think he was hoping that the guard, being a black guy, would somehow cut him some slack as a fellow ‘brother’. I’m not being racist; he leaned towards the guard and said “come on brother”.  That was my first clue.

It wasn’t working.

This was evident the second time the guard pointed out that his train pass was in fact a staff pass for London transport and not vaild on trains outside London. Akon feigned ignorance saying he didn’t know and that no one at his company told him.  He was fooling no one and got charged his penalty fare.

It was at this point I decided to have a snooze. After all, the speed this train was going I had at least 6 hours until we reached London.

The train started to get busier and busier. Every time I opened my eyes I was was surrounded by more and more people, all of whom were coveting my seat like a hyena to a feasting pride of lions.

At one point I was woken by a guy loudly offering his seat to a pregnant woman.  The tone of his voice suggested he was pissed off no one else had done it.  The reason I sensed this was because he said “it’s ok fellahs, I’ll make sure she gets a seat”.  I’m sure the woman didn’t feel guilty at all after that.

Soon enough we stopped about 3 stations outside London. The guard’s voice blared over the tannoy in his best broken English to announce that although we had stopped in a station they were not opening the doors as it wasn’t a scheduled stop.  This was despite the fact that the train was crammed solid and there were people collecting outside the doors like children around an ice cream van.

We sat there. We sat there some more. We sat there a bit longer and other passengers I noticed were starting to get restless. The huffing had begun.

The guard’s voice came over the speaker system again to point out that there had been someone taken ill on another train at the next station and we couldn’t move until the ambulance had sorted them out. My fellow commuters had that ‘i’ll give them a reason for an ambulance’ look on their faces and the huffing had evolved into sly comments and moans; desperate for someone to acknowledge them so they could enter into a mutual bitch about the rail service and how late they were going to be for work. The guy opposite me tried, but I was having none of it.

I texted my partner in crime and fellow manager at work, Sarah, to tell her I was running late. She then promptly rang me.

It’s at this stage that I feel it important to point out that the carriage was deathly silent, despite being wall to wall with people.  All that could be heard aside from the huffing and puffing was the click of phones and keyboards, no doubt moaning digitally to the world about the inconvenience they were having to endure on the nice, warm, comfy train.

Sarah told me she had made it into London, but Victoria underground station was closed due to a fire. When I replied “Victoria is closed?” you can only imagine the reaction of my sardined brethren. I took this opportunity to smile and reply with, “I think you’ve just made me the most unpopular person on this train!” .  This earned me a couple of grins but mostly a mass ‘for fuck’s sake’ groan rose from everyone.  They were all staring at me like I’d just laid my manhood across the table and asked anyone if they wanted to plug in my dongle.

Sarah told me she’d decided to attempt getting a bus to work and we ended our call so I could begin fielding questions from my new ‘friends’. They were so happy to hear that the stress was going to continue when they reached London.

The guard came over the tannoy a couple more times to tell us we weren’t moving, which we’d figured out considering the scenery had stopped going past the window.

The guy opposite me stopped huffing and puffing long enough to jokingly ask the pregnant woman if she was planning to go into labour.  Personally I thought she should start looking at good schools because we may be here a very, very long time.

Eventually we started to move and there was an inaudible, but definite, sigh of relief.

Three minutes into our breakneck journey of 1mph the guard then announced there was a fire at Victoria and the underground was closed.

Cue a massive groan.

Everyone looked at me and half smiled. I held my hands up, smiled back and gave my best ‘see I told you…don’t shoot the messenger’ face. Suddenly I felt cool and current with my finger on the pulse of shit going down. Mostly I was just thankful that I was no longer the misguided focus of their blame.

So after 3.5hrs commuting into work and subsequently turning up late, there was nothing I loved more than “so glad you could join us” and “good afternoon” quips from my lovely colleagues.

I need a coffee.  Now.

Train’d Parrot

I get on the over packed train, having sprinted like a lunatic to catch it, and look everywhere for a seat. I walk down carriage upon carriage of smug commuters looking for my own little slice of heaven, but alas…nowhere to sit.

Then, in between the two EMPTY first class compartments, just where the carriages are coupled, I find a fold down seat not dissimilar to the jump seats used by cabin crew on an aircraft. There’s no one around, there’s no one using it…so I sit down.

Mmm, comfy.

The train pulls away and I settle down to play games on my iPhone.

Perfect.

I look up and down the carriage and it’s standing room only as far as the eye can see. I’m definitely part of the smug crowd.

About 3 mins into the commute I hear footsteps getting closer and closer. They stop to my left and I sense someone stood over me.

I don’t look up.

“Can I help you sir?”, comes a voice in a thick African accent.
“Sorry?”
“Can I help you sir?”, he repeats, in exactly the same way.
“Oh do you want to see my ticket?” I ask, knowing full well what he’s getting at.
“You can’t sit here” he continues.
“Why’s that?” I ask.
“You can’t sit here” he repeats again, not actually answering my question.

I stand up “sorry, why can’t I sit here? The train is packed and there’s nowhere to sit”
“Dis is for staff sir” he says, stating the bleedin’ obvious.
“But there’s no one sat here” I argue, knowing I’m going to be as successful as a dog walker, bag in hand, watching their dog squirt diarrhoea all over the floor.
“Dis is for staff sir” he repeats, like a parrot who’s been taught a phrase but hasn’t got a clue about the right sort of delivery.

Polly want a cracker?

I look him in the eye, smile and say “Oh! I see! It’s for you is it?”
“It’s for staff sir” he says again, causing me to suspect he may, just possibly, be absent a personality.

“Oh, well in that case I’ll go and stand over there uncomfortably with everyone else. Thank you so very much”. I walk back through the EMPTY first class compartment and join the sauna.

“Dis is for staff”

Yeah, I heard you the first 9 times you insufferable Jobsworth.

Luckily this train is really, really delayed and I’m left standing here amongst the coughers, newspaper rustlers and that one guy whose ipod is turned up so loud he’s having problems keeping his balance.

I may garrotte him with his headphones.

Mind you, he hasn’t got to endure those annoying phone users who all take this opportunity to call home and advise of their tardiness. They all start the same bloody way; “hi hun it’s me…me. It’s me. Hello? Yeah it’s me. I’ve got no sig…hello? Yeah I’ve got no signal! Hello? Hello can you hear me? Hello…my train is delayed and….” (Cut off)

They then get called back (with their ringtone at full volume…enough to startle Mr iPod) and repeat the above conversation, almost word for word.

End and repeat.
End and repeat.

In the meantime the guard has pissed off down the train somewhere and isn’t even using the ‘staff seat’.

Think
I
Might
Scream

I’ll huff and I’ll puff….

The train I’m on had been sat in the starting station for 20 minutes with no real explanation as to why (which came as no surprise).

What I found amusing were the huffer puffers; the commuters who feel it necessary to huff and puff to show they’re annoyed and inconvenienced. I swear these people have the deluded idea that the more they huff and the louder they puff, the sooner the train will leave.

Anyway, the amusing thing about these carbon dioxide producing dickheads and their vocal exhalations is when their overwhelming need to ‘beat the system’ backfires.

Allow me to clarify.

The guard’s cockney voice came on the tannoy to apologise for the delay and that we’ll be underway at some point, but he didn’t know when. The HPs all HP’d in unison and started filing off the train like some trade union strike.

This was clearly in an attempt to ‘stick it to the man’ by jumping on a later train that will no doubt leave the station earlier than this one.

No sooner had about 8 people got off, the doors shut and the train pulled away.

Ha ha! Gutted.

The plants are going to have to photosynthesise for England tonight.

Commuter Comraderie?

Train cancelled this morning.

As annoying as that is, I can’t help but be amused at the identical behaviour being displayed by my fellow commuters.

1. Look up and see the yellow scrolling billboard.
2. Stop.
3. Look around with a “for fuck’s sake, are you serious?” expression.
3. Try to get a “I know how you feel mate; I share your pain as I too am plagued by this turn of events” look from another commuter.
4. Fail to get any form of acknowledgement.
5. Get Your phone out and text the boss.
6. Take a photo of the scrolling billboard with the word ‘cancelled’ on it (as your boss probably had no issues getting into work this morning and has already been there 3 hours)
7. Walk along the platform shaking your head and huffing/tutting loudly to make sure others know just how inconvenienced you are.
8. Post it on your blog.
😉