Monday 25 April 2011


Do you ever eavesdrop on people whilst riding public transport? Oh go on, you know you do. That is one of the best reasons to take it, cause it is certainly not to ride in a claustrophobic tin can rife with germs, crowds and the inevitable delays. It is amazing what you can overhear as well: people fighting, egregious (and often nauseating) love talk (for lack of a better way to describe it), longwinded stories that tempt you to interrupt and give advice cause these people clearly need some guidance. It’s one of the main reasons I ride the tube aside from the fact that I have yet to buy a bike seat for the King as I fear he won’t fit into one, and/or I will harm us both in some crazy roundabout debacle.

For those of you that live in a city that means you are relegated to your cars, I’m telling you, public transport is like a bird’s-eye view into society [and you save on petrol]. And yes, sometimes this can be utterly terrifying. In short, on one journey you can see what people are wearing, eating (take note, anyone that brings hot food onto the tube should be arrested, it’s just rude) not to mention their handle on hygiene, or lack thereof. As you’re sandwiched in there like sardines you really get the full scope of people's grooming habits, like it or not. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of people that need to invest in a heavy supply of breath mints.

Riding the tube of course also seriously challenges my claustrophobia, and the only way I get through is to either read, play scrabble on my iphone or focus on who needs the biggest makeover. Petty I realize (and I’m sure it’s being done to me….look at her eye bags! When is the last time that woman cut her hair/slept/showered!) but it passes the time and can be very amusing. I try to find the worst case and then I deliberate on all the possibilities on how to transform them – change of hair, punishing workouts, diet overhaul, eyebrow plucking, you name it. Whilst I do this, I also peruse the cabin for the person that looks the most approachable in case the train gets stuck in a tunnel, and I need someone 'normal' to talk me down off the ceiling. Cause I'm anything but normal when panic sets in.

Using public transport also has (obvious) major detractors. The worst being the tube offenders as I call them; the ones that surpass my interesting sociological study and simply careen into the downright frightening. Like the grown man that I saw writing in a Hello Kitty journal, or the people who insist on praying on the trains. I’m all for religious freedom, but these days, anyway who busts out into prayer and rocks back and forth on a bus, plane or tube is going to start a serious sh*tstorm. There are also the space invaders that insist on standing an inch from your face or sit right next to you even when the car is empty. An easy fix for this one is to simply start sneezing and coughing like you have the plague. 

Believe it or not, I also use the tube or bus to catch up on my reading. Trust me, if you’re a Mother and you’ve managed to wrangle an hour off, sitting on a tube/bus with a book is almost as good as it gets. Sometimes I don’t even care if I get where I’m going; in fact, there are times where I figure if we did get held up, it would buy me a few more hours of relaxation. It is also a good opportunity to see what everyone else is reading. This takes skill of course, because sometimes simply reading the cover doesn’t give you enough information; you then have to be quite crafty and try to lean in and read the back of the book without looking like a freaky stalker.

I of course like any good city-going Mother broke the King in early. He was riding the tube at less than a week old. We figured we would get him exposed to those germs good and early…we are up for ‘Parents of the Year’ I’ve been told. He of course loves it, especially now that he is old enough to sit on my lap (or stand as he insists on doing, hollering “Bub Bub Bub!” at the top of his lungs). He stares at everyone, smiles relentlessly at the women until they smile back (we’ll have to work on that one as it might seem creepy when he’s 25) and talks like he is about to lose his tongue. The only problem is that he is fascinated with trying to lick the glass and poles (I'm talking about the handrails; not his relatives) on the tube. This sends me into an OCD breakdown as I try to explain to him that the tube is for watching, absolutely not for touching. We’ll have to work on that one too.
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