I’ve talked previously about my experience of the tube but it seems not everyone adheres to the unspoken etiquette which is so prevalent on this wondrous transport system. Therefore I’ve put together a few of these silent rules that I’ve seen the majority of people abide by in rush-hour conditions.
1) Always let people off the tube before getting on
If you try to get on too soon you only get pushed back out anyway. Furthermore those getting off are usually so glad to be out of the squashed carriage that they will not be stopped by anything in their path- don’t get in their way!
2) Move down inside the carriage
There is always a message as you get on the tube to ‘move down inside the carriage’ but this doesn’t always happen. This means that if you’re stuck behind someone who isn’t moving down you often get pushed into them, leading to a disapproving/angry look from the person who continues to stay where they are.
3) Always hold on if you’re getting up from a seat
Linked to getting squished in the carriage is getting off if you are in a seat. First, locate the nearest exit – usually by counting the number of people you need to squeeze past to get out of the carriage. Then, make signs that you will be alighting. Putting your bag on your shoulder is a good one or looking around and folding up your copy of Metro, people get the hint and will start moving their legs to one side to let you past. Don’t forget to grab hold of the handrail when you stand up and don’t do as I did and grab hold of the person next to you when the train suddenly slows down into the station and jolts you around. Very embarassing!
4) Silence is golden
Nobody likes getting up early in the morning and even worse than that is engaging in conversation at such an early hour. Generally the commute to work is a quiet one, with only friends or colleagues chatting on the way to work. I have yet to see complete strangers start up a conversation on the tube. The general trend is to read the Metro or other paper, listen to music or get your Kindle out.
5) If there’s a seat going, take it
Even if the seat is all the way down the carriage, if you want it go get it. Particularly in rush hour as it is quite rare to actually get a seat when you get on the tube. (I’ve been lucky but it means getting a very early tube). The obvious exceptions to the rule are if there are older people or pregnant women etc when manners dictate that you give up your seat for these people. A good trick for getting a seat if you start off standing is to get a position in front of the rows of seats and pounce on one as soon as the person gets off. Sounds selfish but it’s nice not having to stand all the way to work, especially on journeys over 30 minutes.
Finally, I think that the tube is an amazing invention but I still find it strange that while people go about their daily business at street level, there are hundreds of trains going back and forth underground all day and night.
Try not to dwell on it too much.