During our recent trip to
As a group of 20 students arriving at the station at rush hour on the Monday evening, I straight away noticed that everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were doing and the rituals that took place. Business men in their black pinstripe suits and briefcase in hand strode past, swiped a card onto the machine and lined themselves up at one of the lifts getting prepared to go deep under the streets of London. It took us a while to work out the zones, peak times, how much the tickets were and then how to work the machines to get a ticket. Thankfully pretty soon were swiping our tickets with everyone else and ventured towards the lifts. In
While waiting for everyone else to get their tickets, I had a while to stand and watch what was going on, how everyone knew which lift was coming next and the system that appeared to be very efficient in getting everyone down to the platform. As it was peak time there was an operator/assistant there ensuring that everyone knew which lift was coming next and he was manually pushing buttons and twisting knobs, closing the doors of the lifts and making them go up and down faster. The lift doors opened, as the group of people coming up from the platform to the station moved out of the front set of doors, those waiting moved into the lift through a back set of doors. Everyone automatically moved right to the front, knowing that another person was soon going to move right into their personal space. I could sense that people were preparing themselves for this to happen, it was nearly like they had a gasp of their own fresh air before going into the lift and sharing it with everyone else. Eventually we joined this man/penguin style rush onto the lift. I automatically felt myself joining in with the crowd straight away, heading straight towards the opposite end of the lift, ensuring that I as far forward as possible so that everyone could cram on. At this point I noticed the silence that struck as soon as the lift started moving down to the platform. Everyone stared straight ahead of them avoiding eye contact, or looking at the posters on the walls, the same ones as they probably pretend to be very interested in everyday, just to avoid catching someone else’s eye unintentionally. I found this really interesting, an unspoken ritual and rule that everyone obeyed to. But found myself wondering why this occurs? Why don’t people look around, look at what other people are doing, wearing, reading etc? Or why don’t people even make eye contact or smile at each other?
Once out of the lift and down to the platform everyone joined in with the trot like pace through the tunnels to the platform edge. Within no time there was a strange gush of humid air flowing through the platform and a tube appeared. Again, we joined with the crowd making a mad dash for the nearest door, at all times remaining silent. I find it strange that is it so silent, that while on these journeys when the majority of people are travelling alone no one speaks to each other even just to make their journey a little more interesting or pass a little quicker. As a group of students on the train we obviously spoke to each other while trying to work out which station we should get off at, how many more stops there were to go etc. I automatically found myself discussing the rules and regulations that appear to happen on the underground with my classmates. We had all noticed the same thing and were all experiencing this strange silence in which we felt we were breeching by speaking to each other while on the tubes and noticed people looking at us. There was a few other small groups of people having discussions, the majority of these seemed to be business chat or some groups of girls discussing their weekends events but the high majority of people were staring at the person opposites feet or again, pretending to be very interested in the same poster as they were very interested in on the lift. We soon became used to this experience through using the tubes on a very regular basis. We were travelling on the trains about 6 or 8 times a day and visiting many different stations in the process. We gradually found ourselves not finding it as strange, and breaking off into smaller groups to travel. The first few times we went onto the tubes I noticed very few of us actually sitting on any of the seats, even when there were some available. We tended to stay standing near the doors. I think that this was due to being unsure as to when to get off or how close our station was, but I think there was also a sense of apprehension; not being sure of the person that could be sitting next to you. As we started to use the trains more, some of us ventured to sit on a seat, especially if there was a few together. This was a slightly strange experience and found myself wondering why the seats are designed to face each other. The already awkward situation of looking straight into some bodies eyes is somewhat exaggerated when sitting down, it’s harder to find other places to look other than their feet.
We visited many different stations throughout our time in
Throughout our time in