After twenty years of splendid isolation in despicable company cars, I recently joined the ranks of the daily commuters. I’m not a big fan of loyalty cards, but still: in no time have my green and social karma scores reached an all-time high. Wholly undeserved, I must admit.
Because, I ask you: what could possibly be more delightful than spending thirty minutes in the intimate presence of perfect strangers — twice a day? The daily journey from my flat to work and back is such a rewarding experience — it would make the most ardent atheist start begging for reincarnation.
Now, not sharing an opportunity for cosmic harmony would be utterly selfish. Therefore, at the risk of preaching to the choir, allow me to spread the Word of the Tube.
It all starts at the Gates.
Like spermatozoa racing towards the ovum, my fellow commuters and I swiftly maneuver our way through the masses. Whilst looking for our Oyster card — how aptly named! — we desperately try to avoid the inevitable collision. Where are the roundabouts when you need them? Anyway, with ever growing anticipated joy, we get in line. One redemptive blink of the green light, and we wrestle ourselves through the Gates. Kind of a jade egg experience, so I’m told, but at a mere fraction of the cost.
Down on the platform, the brilliant self-organising spectacle continues as we queue up once more, now neatly in double lines. Spurred by motivational messages from the station manager — “Have an amazing day!” — and carefully minding the Gap of Death, I finally make it onto the Train of Life. This is what birth must have felt like, had I paid a bit more attention.
Once inside, spontaneous Chants of Praise screaming from the neighbors’ headphones fill my ears with enchantment. Tears of joy follow when, like a Sign from Above, the aircon blows away any remaining doubts and worries. How wonderful to sneeze as I feel the Breeze of Freeze, right there, down my neck.
While reaching out for the yellow handle to stay on my feet, I generously offer my vertically challenged co-passenger an olphactory glimpse into my Axe-sprayed armpit. Gratefully, she retaliates by spilling hot coffee on my trousers. So much human warmth, you can’t imagine.
Fortunately, at each station, more and more passengers get stuffed onto the Godly Carriage. There definitely is a place for everyone on the Train of Eternity. #YouToo, #MeToo, the more the merrier.
Alas, just as Nirvana comes within reach, the Heavenly Horses approach my final destination — at least in this life. Sweatily stumbling over three suitcases and a drunk, I fall face flat on the floor. As I crawl my way out through the Doors of Illumination into the darkness on Moorgate’s platform, I jealously look up, straight into the new entrants’ eyes. Such hope, such happiness, such health!
Damn, where’s my Oyster card?