Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Commuter comment

This is just a random observation based on what I saw this morning!

The London commuter is a hardy creature, used to pushing in front of everyone else in pursuit of the rare seats on the train. The most successful commuters have an inflated sense of entitlement and are adept at the art of avoiding eye contact while still tracking the location and vector of all surrounding commuters in order to ensure that they're in the best possible position to get onto and off the train first. I've learned to just let them get on with it - if people want to be inconsiderate or rude it's not my problem and I usually overtake them on the walk anyway! Men rarely give way to women anymore and who can blame them? Plenty of young women will barge through a crowd, ignoring the elderly just so they can get a seat.

But I had a pleasant surprise this morning. The train was packed as usual and I was one of the last onto it, but I managed to get a seat, squeezed between two relatively inoffensive people. Across the way there was a suited policeman (the logos on his bag and tie gave him away), who was taking up two seats with his bag and paperwork and looked anxious at the thought of giving one seat up, probably because he was a bit of a giant and the seats are too small, so I left him alone and squeezed into the slightly more awkward free seat.

I buried my head in my paper, put my earphones in and only looked at my surrounding passengers again when we got to Victoria. Commuter instincts always kick in again at Victoria - everyone starts eyeing eachother (without eye contact) to assess whether they'll push in front of this person or the next one to get off the train as quickly as possible. Much meaningful bag and outstretched leg placement goes on, which is fascinating to watch. At this point I noticed the older gentleman with a smart RAF badge on his blazer, with a medal pinned on it, obviously on his way to something important with his wife, who was also in her Sunday best.

I usually identify who I'm going to let out in front of me and I nominated this man and his wife - with all of the anti-military sentiment that people seem to have these days, I wanted to show solidarity. Most of the policemen I've met aren't old school and don't automatically respect anyone or give way to women, so I wasn't surprised that the copper angled to get in front of me. I was surprised when he made a point of saying "after you sir" and ushering the RAF veteran and his wife out of the train.

I wondered if he was in a hurry to show his respect too? I just thought it was a nice moment that made me smile. And it was good to see a copper, who I would guess is high-ranking, showing that small respect to a veteran.


  1. I should think the old chap was on his way to St Paul's for the commemoration service marking the first air raid of the Blitz, 70 years ago today. Nice to know the Met Officer actually showed a bit of consideration.

    And well done you.

  2. I didn't realise it at the time, but I posted that at 11.11 - a good time for a veterans story, even if we do use the more convenient minute's silence at 11am usually!