15 December 2011

Commuter chaos

The underground train arrives in the station and there is a mad scrum to get to the doors first.  Of course, travellers have to wait for passengers already on the train to exit first before they can get on, but if they are first in line at the door, then they stand a pretty good chance of getting one of the few vacant seats inside.  If it isn't your lucky day, then you have to complete your journey, in an upright position, squeezed between pushchairs, rucksacks and someone who's just consumed a particularly strong curry,

The train slows down and, in what resembles a game of reverse Russian roulette, you hope against all hope that one of the doors comes to a halt right where you are standing on the platform.  It's too crowded to go running after a door; you just have to hope Lady Luck is smiling on you today.  Eventually the train stops and all the passengers gravitate towards their nearest door.  But the doors in front of you don't open.  And even more peculiar, the area inside is devoid of crowds.  Why??? The other passengers up and down the platform disappear inside the train.  The platform clears.  The driver warns people over the loudspeaker to stand clear of the train. It's about to leave but you and a handful of fellow passengers still haven't boarded.  You desperately yank on the handle - repeatedly.  Nothing happens - repeatedly.  Why won't the damn door open?  A lucky traveller on the inside of the train gestures towards the glass separating you.  Can't the fool see that you're trying to open the door; why doesn't he help and open the door from the inside?  And then you see them: fluorescent yellow notices plastered all over the doors, at eye level so you can't miss them, and printed in big, red letters are the words "Out of Order."  And in case you are illiterate or don't speak the lingo, there is also a pictograph - it depicts a man trying to open a locked train door.  

Despite valiant attempts by rail workers, people still fail to notice these bright yellow signs.  There are so many pasted on the glass that they block out the light, yet people somehow don't notice them.  Do commuters walk around in such a hypnotised state that they literally do not notice what is staring them in the face?  Maybe they are totally brainwashed by mind-numbing, daily routine that they fail to register anything out of the ordinary that does not fit into their comforting, familiar practices.

The incidents are becoming more frequent (both broken doors and inattentive travellers) and I am at a loss to explain the phenomenon.

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Squeaky Door by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.