Mind The Gap

That's the gap between the honourable members of the public who were brought up to do the decent thing, like offer a seat to a pregnant woman or not cough directly into someone's face, and the rest of society. 

Being pregnant makes you realise that some people are dicks. Like the man last week who got on at the same station as me, saw me avec badge going for the same (and only) vacant seat and took it anyway. The worst are definitely the middle aged 'busy ladies'. If a woman is in her 40s or 50s, is wearing a suit and expensive jewellery, I can almost guarantee she will be the last person to give up her seat. 

It really does amaze me that people don't give up their seat for a preggo or an elderly person or someone who is disabled. I still do, and I AM pregnant! It all got a bit awks on the tube about a month ago, I was sitting down and a veeeeeery heavily pregnant woman got on, panting and with a massive, 35+ week bump. She looked ready to pop. I glanced around, thinking 'I'll just give this a second', kept looking and...nothing. Two while rows of people (that's ten people!) pretending they couldn't see the enormously pregnant woman about to give birth in front of them. I offered her my seat and started to get up, but she saw my badge and refused to take my seat. It all got a bit awks as we started to have one of those polite 'no, you take it', 'no, YOU need it more' faux arguments that the British do. Finally a young girl sighed heavily, looked irritated and said "do you want my seat?"  Utter madness. 

But the inconsiderate arseholes are only one breed of annoying tube-traveller. 

There are the people who are blithely unaware that their every movement is irritation personified to everyone else in the carriage. The constant sniffers, the couple who eat each other's faces for the duration of the journey, the yoof with the obnoxiously loud and sweary rap music. The woman a few weeks ago who sat next to me and talked on her (seemingly miraculous, as it never lost signal) phone ALL the way in. 

Then there are the groomers. Not as in weirdos pretending to be teenagers on the Internet to lure children to their house kind of grooming. The treating the tube as if it's your bathroom kind. The women who do their makeup on the tube, blowing bronzer over their neighbours and risking jabbing their seat-mate in the eye with a mascara wand every time the train jolts. The worst are the eyebrow plucking and nail filing kind. Applying eyeliner is an almost acceptable, if very brave, move. Doing something that leaves behind small parts of your body is not. 

Once I saw a woman straighten her hair on a Great Western train. She plugged her GHDs into the laptop/phone charger socket and used the window next to her as a mirror. Ten points for ingenuity, minus 50 for inappropriateness. 

There's that odd rule that you shouldn't read over someone's shoulder, even though everyone does it. It's probably not ok to read people's texts/emails/papers on the tube but I do it ALL the time. If your convo is so private you don't want anyone else to see, don't text/whatsapp on public transport. Sometimes I get disappointed, like the other day when I looked at girl's phone to see a whatsapp convo entitled 'three girls one bed' on the screen. My interest was definitely piqued. Was she arranging a lesbian threesome on the bus? No, it was a whingey thread between her and her housemate about how they didn't want to live with their flatmate anymore. Snore.

And then there are the gross people. A lot of gross things happen on the tube. 

There was the guy a few years ago who stroked my tummy repeatedly, his hand following even as I inches away from him so it ended up at 'hand-shaking' length. 

My male friend got his crotch groped for the whole of his commute to work once. By a woman. He's gay, which made it all the more awkward. 

Aside from pervy grossness, there's also just outright disgustingness. The other morning I saw a man open his book so he could sneeze into it. While I appreciated his reluctance to share his germs with the rest of the carriage, all I could think was 'I hope that's not a library book'. 

Someone I know once fainted on the tube and peed herself while pregnant. After I'd checked she was ok, I really had to rein in my urge to frantically ask "which line?!" so I could avoid sitting in the pee. A not-infrequent occurrence, if the plastic cover proclaiming 'wet seat' I saw on the district line last week is anything to go by. 

The grossest thing I've EVER seen was on the tube. It was late 2009/early 2010 on the central line, when I was living in Mile End. I was standing, and the woman in the seat nearest me sneezed. She had the decency to do it into her hand, and THANK THE LORD she had, for it was quite honestly the most disgusting sight I've ever seen. I feel all retchy and faint just remembering it. A HUGE, gelatinous, green glob of phlegm flew out of her mouth into her hand. The look of panic across her face as she realised she didn't have a tissue will stay with me forever. I was simultaneously grossed out and fascinated to see what she'd do next. In my memory, I think I searched my bag for a tissue to offer her, but in all honesty I may have been too shocked to do such a practical and altruistic thing. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as she visibly ran through her options. I considered the most disgusting thing she could do would be to wipe it on the seat. I was wrong. I was so wrong. She furtively glanced around, avoiding my surely intense gaze and, satisfied her embarrassment would be minimal, proceeded to lap it out of her hand into her mouth, like a cat lapping a saucer of milk. Like a human, adult cat lapping gloopy bogies out of a saucer of her own flesh. I still can't think of that tube journey without heaving. 

On that note, I'm off the retch into the toilet. Aren't you glad I posted this at dinner time? 

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