Friday, August 04, 2006

Transportation Woes

Sunday going home

I was in a good mood, really. Ok so I’d just finished a 12 hour shift, my 4th in a row but now, now I was off for 4 days. I was heading towards a lovely quiet night in with my gorg, who as I travelled wearily home, would be creating a Sunday roast of epic preportions. Who wouldn’t be in a good mood?

Getting onto my district line train home I was grateful that as it was a Sunday I could get a seat. I tucked myself into the seat next to the doors with a glass screen, therefore ensuring that only one person would be able to sit next to me, perfect.
A quick scan around the carriage revealed a motley crew of fellow passengers. Mostly tourists with a smattering of drunken Essex girls on a hen weekend and a woman so fat she needed a support worker by her side ramming pies into her enormous pie hole or she would most definitely keel over from malnutrition.

Two stops down the line a begger got on .The doors clattered shut behind his grubby, stooping frame.

He was suitably scruffy and was a real contender for the Nobel prize for the worst personal hygiene on board a tube train on a hot summers day .The stench of stale urine permeated the air reaching where I sat, at the opposite end of the carriage with ease.

He held up a card which read “Hungry and Homeless. Please help”
Adressing the passengers at other end of the tube to where I sat, he announced that he was down on his luck and that all he needed was a couple of pounds for something to eat and he would be on his way. The response from the passengers at the other end of the carriage was totally unified , no-one moved an inch and suddenly became fascinated by the advertisement for cheap phone deals to America on the spaces above their fellow passengers heads.

Not a single penny was handed over.

The begging guy, looking even more deflated, thanked them for listening, moved along the carriage and stood almost in front of me. Once again the card was raised and he begun his speech. I really felt his humiliation, it must really take something to put someone in such a position that they would beg in this humiliating way. I felt a certain empathy with him, after all he was in a place we could end up in or have only narrowly avoided. So I reached into my pocket and grabbed the contents in my fist and after a fair amount of twisting and turning pulled out a fistful of change.
Leaning forward I said “ here you go mate”.

He held his blackened and calloused hands together to make a cup and I poured cash into it, it chinked together above the sound of the train as rattled across some points on the track, the beggers eyes lit up and a smile made his old worn face crinkle with pleasure.

I sat back in my seat, Mr smug from smugrabistan.

I glanced around the carriage, I had been elevated instantly to a god amongst men.

The female passengers eyed me with that look a woman gives to a sensitive man, you know that look, the “you’re so sensitive, I want to bear your children” look.

The male passengers had mixed emotions, conflicting between respect for a bigger man and envy that they hadn’t thought of doing it first.
Yes, I was king of the carriage and no-one but no-one could question my social conciencse credentials here at all. How triumphantly smug I felt…

23 pence and a pay and display ticket for the borough of Westminster valid until 1305 last Tuesday ? you tight cunt. It cost me 2 pounds to get on this fucking train, how is 23 pence acceptable? Come on, you must have more.

I was horrified, had this begger not heard about the oyster card? Did he really not know that every journey on the tubes and buses are cheaper with an oyster card??
And also, and considerably more serious, my status on the train had been destroyed.

I looked around the carriage. My eyes pleading for some kind of support from these people, who only moments before had held me in such high esteem. They wanted my babies for fucks sake!! You cant desert me now, not now I need you!!!

They were all looking at me.

Even fat woman had stopped eating a pie. Her mouth hung open, a small amount of gravy started the journey down her greasy chin. A journey that stood no chance of completion. Many times before gravy had tried a similar escape plan only to be foiled by a sweeping, gravy and saliva coated tongue, a fully trained pie attacking machine.
A voice from the far end of the carriage broke the painful silence, it was one of the Essex hens, her nasty blonde hair pulled back off her vicious looking face. Worse the wear for alcohol she swayed from side to side manically as she slurred:

Yeah you fuckin tight cunt, give ‘im a couple of quid for fucks sake. What’s a fuckin’ couple of quid to you

The rest of the carriage joined in berating me for being so stingy. More and more passengers joined in, getting to their feet to point and wag accusing fingers at me. They moved closer towards me;

That’s all the change I’ve got. I protested, weakly. I used my change to top up my oyster card. I explained. But still they moved closer.

A middle aged Japanese tourist got me in headlock while a young couple from france held my hands above my head. With 2 of the Essex hens holding my legs down I was rendered helpless.
I cried, I cried the cry of an 8 year old boy having witnessed an England penalty shoot out. But nothing was going to save me now.Apart from the fact that I'd fallen asleep and was in no danger at all.