Being part of a temporary underground community
I was on a tube yesterday, headphones on, going to a meeting. Nothing unusual about that, except halfway through a tunnel, the tube stopped and the lights dimmed. Uh-oh. What’s going on?
Slowly everyone looked up, looked around, waited for an announcement: it came quickly, there was a person on the track at the next station.
How awful, headphones removed, newspapers and books went down, everyone started speaking, slowly at first, chatty as time went on.
The driver made announcements every 5 minutes or so about the likelihood of the train moving again. At one point, slim to none: a plan was being put together where we may have to exit the tube and walk back down the track to get on another train. Our train was on the same section of the track as the person at the station ahead, so the power had been disconnected. The train couldn’t move forward nor backwards.
We became a very chatty little community on our carriage. One girl spoke almost constantly, laughing and joking, but clearly nervous. A homeless guy compared it to a time he fell on the tracks whilst a bit wasted (that story didn’t go down that well to be honest). One man was going to be late for work – he is always late for work, his boss isn’t going to be very happy. A lady is going to miss an important client meeting, the client will think her incredibly rude!
Time moved on, the carriage was getting hotter, jackets, and sweaters came off. The only person with a bottle of water is the homeless guy, who is happy to share! No one takes him up on the offer.
There is a little girl in the carriage, around 3 years old, she is our entertainment! It turns out though that Mum and Dad were on their way to Dad’s brother’s wedding: he’s the best man, the little girl is the bridesmaid. This is the saddest story we all conclude – they don’t make the wedding.
Eventually we move. The train carries on. At the next station there is medical assistance and bottles of water for whoever needs it – we all just need water. About an hour and half has passed, and then we are all on our way.
The headphones go back on, the books and newspapers are reopened, and by the second stop we have all resumed our normal London Underground behaviour. Our little community is disbanded. Our connection is over.
(For information the guy on the tracks was fine, no injuries. He is not what this story is about.)