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Blog: Tube Train Niceness
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I went down to the Central Line at Oxford Circus, at the back end of the train where I usually get on for going home, and saw a young London Underground employee standing with a rather old lady. He was mid-20s at most, Asian, with one of those under-chin beards. She was at least 90 and, it became clear as soon as she spoke, was OLD EAST END. A train came in but such a lot of people got off that there was no time to get her on, so he went off to speak to someone so the doors would stay open longer.
She was very frail so I went and stood with her - it was the height of RUSH HOUR and very busy, and she looked like she'd fall over from the BACKDRAFT of the next train, let alone PEOPLE. Another train came in and a lady nearby - early 30's, black (2nd/3rd generation Jamaican, I guessed) offered to help her on, but she said that the young man was coming back and didn't want to just pop off without him, so we waited.
When he arrived he said he was going to take her to the front of the train - this was all well and good, but it would have taken her about half an hour to get there. "That's no good for me!" she said, so he agreed to try and get her on. The next train came and he stepped forward "Sorry everyone", he called in, "I just need to get this lady on."
You know how everyone thinks LONDONERS are horrid and don't care about anyone else? That might sometimes be true, but in this instance we had a little bit of OLYMPIC SPIRIT as, in the middle of the rush hour, a huge GAP opened up leading her to a seat. The huge polish builder with his beer can in a bag (why do people put beer cans in bags? do they think it disguises them?) the (Italian I thought) man opposite, the French couple, ME, the LU guy and the woman on the seat next to her (late 20s, North African parents maybe?) all FOCUSED and made sure she got sat down, holding onto her as the train LURCHED forward and sliding her down to her seat.
She chatted ALL THE WAY to Leyton, where she was getting off - you could feel the TENSION rising in the carriage as we left Stratford as it was VERY CROWDED again, and you could see people POISED, ready to LEAP UP and get her off in time. Luckily the woman next to her was PREPARED, and LEAPT up as soon as we pulled in, calling out for space and, again, the great OCEAN OF COMMUTER parted.
Stood by the doors was another LU employee, an enormous Turkish-looking man, who greeted her and gently led her to the stairs. A sigh of relief whooshed through the UNITED NATIONS heading home, and we all returned to our newspapers, tablets, books and soduku, RELIEVED that it had all worked out all right. We could go back to pretending nobody else existed, safe in the knowledge that if it MATTERED, things might be different.
posted 15/3/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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