There are really several London Underground Tubes. There is the rush hour one, with commuters intent on one thing: getting to work on time and, at the other end of the day, getting home as quickly as possible. Think intense.
There is the middle of the day or tea time Tube with people traveling at an unhurried pace. And then there is the late-night, party Tube with younger people coming out of pubs or clubs well lubricated. What we are mainly concerned with here is the rush hour Tube, the intense Tube. Here are 10 things you need to know about that Tube if you want to avoid hostility.
9 Never, Ever Make Eye Contact Or Else
Pranksters are constantly posting rogue signs about what is and isn't allowed on the Tube. And this is one. But the simple fact is that people on the rush hour Tube do everything they can to ignore other people. They fiddle with their phones. They read. They stare at the floor.
The old joke is that the British do everything they can to avoid getting noticed. And connecting with other people gets you noticed. So if you are traveling on the Tube, especially during busy times, ignore other people.
8 No Bags On Seats You Selfish So And So
England is an island. Why is this relevant to the Tube? It's because space is at a premium, especially on crowded Tube trains. Do not put bags, backpacks, briefcases or dogs on the seat next to you.
Why? Because it sends a message to fellow passengers: My stuff is more important than you are. Now, England being England, it is unlikely that anyone will pluck up the courage to ask you to move your stuff. But they will be very annoyed.
7 Leave The Onion Bagel At Home
Being on the Tube means you are trapped inside a rolling carriage and subject to the whims and vagaries of those around you. Getting onto a train with stinky food and subjecting others to the smells of your curry or onion bagel or fish and chips is a no-no.
Periodically, the Tube bosses consider banning hot foot on trains, but they have yet to actually do anything about it. So, if you want to avoid glares and stares ditch the food before you board a commuter train. Late-night after the pub? Nobody will care.
This is actually a Peter Gabriel concert. But the point is, in these days of portable music, fancy smartphones and headphones that sing and dance, you can take your music with you everywhere you go.
Do not rev up the volume and enjoy yourself at the price of irritating fellow passengers on the Tube. That subtle throb or random note will distract and annoy other passengers. And, for gosh sake, don't even think about singing or humming along. The only thing that is worse is a busker who gets on the Tube and serenades passengers.
6 Walk Really Fast And No Faffing About At The Gate
Did you know that dogs travel free on the Tube? Not so sure about goats. But people need a ticket or a credit card looking gizmo called an Oyster Card. Rush hour people stream off the Tube and stampede towards the exit gates.
Experienced travelers have that ticket or card out and ready to insert in the slot. If you get to the exit and are fumbling around trying to find your ticket or card, you could cause a stampede or a lot of pushing and shoving. Be ready to exit efficiently.
5 No Messing About On The Platform
During World War II when the Germans were bombing London, the Underground served as a mass shelter. People slept Underground. People partied Underground, as you can see. But these days?
Unless you are a late-night, party Tube kind of person, larking about on the platform is another no-no. For one thing, it could be dangerous messing about so close to the electrified train rails. And for another thing? It is very un-British to have fun, especially during the rush hour. Save it for late at night after you have left the bar.
4 Stand To The Right On The Escalator Or Else
This guy is doing everything right. He is wearing his backpack, standing on the right and carrying his dog. The British drive on the left-hand side of the road, right? So think of it this way: On the escalator, you stand on the right and walk on the left.
Otherwise, you clog up the moving commuters who will not thank you for slowing them down. This one is not actually unwritten. It is an official London Underground dictate. Stand on the right. Walk on the left.
3 Perk For The Elderly Or Disabled
We are worried about this one. Can you house train a horse? Doubtful. But in any event, the British are big on taking care of the elderly or disabled. There are special seats on the train (nearest a door).
If you are sitting in a designated seat and an elderly or disabled (or pregnant) person boards the train, you are supposed to offer your seat to them. Sometimes people close their eyes and pretend to be asleep to avoid giving up their precious perch. Don't do that. Be thoughtful and kind.
2 Doggie Etiquette
Believe it or not, but these English doggies are Instagram stars. Go figure. You need to be aware of doggie etiquette on the Tube. Number one, dogs travel free. But they must be on a leash and under your control at all times.
During rush hour, it is bad form to put your dog on the seat next to you. Remember, you are taking up valuable human space doing that. Also, you must carry your dog on the escalator or walk him or her up the stairs. Finally, no more than two dogs per person on the Tube.
1 Don't Dare To Go Bare, Please
The things that annoy Tube commuters the most are people with smelly food, people who cough and sneeze, people who smell and, finally, people who neglect to put on their trousers (pants) or fail to wear a top. This one probably only applies to men.
There is nothing worse than a fat guy in shorts and no top sitting next to you, especially in hot weather. And do not even think about taking off your shoes. Did you spot the obvious here? Even though this guy is pant-less, the Brits are ignoring him. Good form.