For something that dominates the way we live in more ways than we'd care to admit, the London Underground is pretty shit. Don't let that unintentional rhyme or the fact that we're currently 'celebrating' its 150th birthday fool you: it's one of the most annoying things in existence.
It often feels like a test. An examination of your tolerance to concentrated human and technological douche-baggery. You might sit there and think "Well maybe I'm suffering this crap user experience now so that future generations will have it better. We're just a generation helping them iron out the kinks." How does 150 years of kinks sound to you? That sounds irrevocably fucking kinked to me.
While I could go through and lambast the entire institution for being the evil gang of power-mad wankers that they most certainly are, I'd rather focus things down and give you a few very specific examples of why I hate the world's oldest underground railway system so bloody much:
Tottenham Court Road station, 5pm, every Thursday
You'd think it'd be Friday when everyone loses their shit but it's not. Most days everyone moves through the station on the commuter conveyor belt like particularly stoic cardboard boxes. Even the tourists, bless them. They understand that this is not a place for dallying. This isn't a place to marvel at train times or tube statuses, this is a place to keep yourself to yourself so we can all get the hell out of here. But come each Thursday, like clockwork, everyone loses their shit. Everyone is rushing home - sick of the week, ready for the weekend - and that lures casual commuters into thinking that this is a decent way to behave, only serving to make things even worse. I once saw an angry Spanish family trying to shove a TravelEx bank card into an Oyster card reader at the gates while two suits screamed at them. It was fucking anarchy.
I bought a Kindle to make everyone's ride to work easier. If everyone had one instead of those paper old-school 'book' things, there would be significantly less carriage bumping. The only thing you require with a Kindle (or other, less good, e-Readers) is a rail journey and your imagination and you're good to go. But no. Making a mockery of my effort, there has been a terrifically shit uprising in the amount of brain-achingly wanker-ish people (usually middle-aged men with a sickly hue) who have taken to leaning their entire body on hand-rails; choosing to envelope my hand with their pillowy back-fat rather than just clasp hold like regular not-prick people.
The People Of Upney
Upney, in case you didn't know, is a ghost town. Nobody has ever known anyone who has ever lived in Upney but for the few dead-eyed souls who stumble onto the train from its desolate platform. The people are usually lank-haired carapaces in rain-jackets masquerading as humans, eating smelly food and then getting off at Barking, the next station, anyway. I'm pretty sure that if the entire station was razed no-one would notice except for a few people saying "Oh it's taken me five minutes less than usual to get home".
My Carriage Crush, Bow Road
Carriage crushes are both the best and the worst. They're the best because you know that there's no pressure to chat to them because, hey, you only know they exist because you both get on the train at the same time and to talk to someone - anyone - out loud on the train is borderline sociopathic. Conversely, it's terrible because of the same reason. I accidentally spoke to my Bow Road crush one time (I think I said 'Oh I've read that' about her book or something EQUALLY CHARMING) and now she gets on at a different door and I don't even know who she is anymore.
Barking's Phone Signal Vacuum
How can one station suck up all of the 3G connection? Is there one malicious wanker sitting in his double-locked staff-room wanking himself into a stupor, mopping his clammy brow with a lurid fluorescent vest, as he uses up all of the phone signals in a hundred metre radius watching a HD video of two teens getting it? Probably. All I want to do is waste time on Twitter as I pass through the glorified wasteland that is Greater Dagenham but no. Can't even get on Twitter.
Angry Fat Guy, Bank
The rush-hour train at Bank is usually pretty damn packed so when Angry Fat Guy at Bank - with a face the colour of blood and wearing what resembles more the chassis of a Hackney carriage than any kind of human garment - attempts to bundle in, it can be pretty fucking aggravating. With a breathy 'Move down, please' (even though 'moving down' would require at least a few of us to assume liquid form), he gives zero fucks and I remember one time watching him nigh on crush a woman to death without him so much as batting a gross eyelid.
Middle Aged Mums With Buggies
I mean, come on. No trip to nursery could be THAT important. Violently stabbing your baby's pram into my calves will not help fit the two of you onto this airtight carriage, it'll only serve to make everyone think that you're an arrogant twat. I remember one occasion where a woman declared "Can you PLEASE move down for me and my baby?" which made me want to turn around and boot the pair of them back out onto the platform before declaring "It's 'my baby and I', actually" as the doors closed on her. I didn't though, I just apologised profusely for the fact that I had legs that were unintentionally in her way (and also, apparently, I was incorrect - grammar and furious passive-aggression don't mix).
Conscious Snorer, Bethnal Green
Another regular of carriage two. This small Asian fellow is seemingly-perpetually reading the first Game Of Thrones book (it's been going on about three months now), listening to Lady Gaga at ear-splitting volume and snoring while awake. He could well have some kind of debilitating sinus infection but I couldn't care less: hearing that nasal gargle every morning makes me want to pull the passenger alarm.