It’s an olympic feat riding the tube!

It was March this year that due to a relocation of offices I had my first experience of tube commuting on a regular basis.  Like all things new, it was amusing to see people’s behaviour as they waited then boarded the train, jostled for personal space and claimed available seats.

This got me thinking about the recent olympics and how the tube journey to work reminded me in someway of a competitive sport requiring great stamina, with each passenger looking for their small victory.

The last 6 months I have witnessed good, bad, competitive, submissive and under the influence behaviours.  It seemed to me that should you wish a lesson in human nature then the best place to observe this was on the tube.

In this blog, however, I am going to concentrate on the phenomenon which I call tube olympics!

so, I stepped onto the tube platform for the first time.  I looked up at the arrivals board and saw that my train was the third on the list, I stood back against the wall in a courteous manner allowing the passengers for the first two trains to have access to the front of the platform.

Those two trains came and went and as I stepped forward to take the front of the platform for my train the platform was already full.  Clearly some tactics were needed as my train left the station without me due to over-crowding.

“On your marks…..”

I devised a way of ensuring I got my train but kept some kind of respect for myself and others.  After a couple of journeys I had figured out where the tube doors opened at my destination station exit stairs and stood near this spot when catching the tube at my starting station.  I soon realised that I wasn’t alone and stood most mornings with others who were going to the same station.  This gave me some comfort in knowing that my plan was “normal” behaviour.

“Get set…..”

Next was the dilemma of where to stand on the tube, if you had a choice that is.  The worst thing about busy tubes is being squashed under a tall person’s armpit who quite clearly had been out on the beers the night before as they still smelt of alcohol and must have slept in an alleyway as their body odour was choking up the whole carriage.

My findings confirm that the best places to stand are (obviously a seat would be the holy grail, however), 1) at the carriage end with the window open, or 2) by the doors which open at your destination exit so at least you would get some air when the doors opened at each station and be the first out at your station exit.


We all know that heeled work shoes are exactly that, shoes that should remain at work so I invested in some “commuter trainers”, the comfortable footwear of choice, so I am able to maneuver and position myself quickly and accurately enough to execute my travel plan successfully, oh and to endure the long periods of standing too.

So, 6 months on, how is it going?  Well, I certainly don’t feel like I have won a gold medal or gained any sense of camaraderie with my fellow travellers but in some small way a victory has been made.  It takes resilience, patience, adaptability and control to make a tube journey everyday even for 6 months.

For those who do it day in day out for years, they certainly deserve some respect…. even if they do elbow you in the ribs as they push you to one side trying to reach that one empty seat before anybody else!  That’s the spirit, right?!


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