Thursday, July 19, 2007

A commuter out of water

Its very strange. I'm the same, I wear the same clothes, I take the same route to work. But everything else is different, everyone else is on holiday, towing enormous suitcases, wearing garish t-shirts, and having absolutely no sense of urgency whatsoever.
My summer of late shifts means that I travel to work in the middle of the day, and it's making me feel like I've landed on a different planet. Normally, when I tut and shuffle, trying to get to the front of the queue for the train door, I'm surrounded by other people dressed in dark clothes, tutting and shuffling along with me. And it works fine. We're like a moody river, all moving in the same direction, all in a bit of a rush because of some signal failure or other, all moving smartly away from the train upon exit and striking out with purpose towards our chosen tube line. And absolutely never, and I mean never ever, stepping down from the train, stopping dead still, and looking around in amazement at the sheer excitement of being on Paddington station, suitcase blocking what's left of the doorway, with no awareness whatsoever of the commuter standing behind you, fit to burst with frustration and almost falling over your stupid suitcase.
There were actually a million people on Paddington station today. Where they hell were they all going? And why did they feel it necessary to sit all over the floor, so that I couldn't find a way through the milling, disoriented, bag-dragging, stopping-suddenly-for-no-reason-whatsoever-and-then-staring-around-in-wonder crowd to get to the underground entrance.
I think I need a holiday. And when I do have one, I will be sensible and get into my car. Like normal people do.


Simon said...

Please don't take this the wrong way, but in many ways you are quite lucky with your journey. You appear to travel from a small local station to one of the lagest stations in the country. The capacity at each station matches demand.

The two worst stations for demand vs capacity on the FGW network are probably Reading station and Bristol Parkway.

Narrow platforms, frequently blocked by waiting passengers and suitcases

Narrow staircases, often blocked by people trying to drag a wheeled suitcase twice their size.

Too few automatic gates; that frequently fail or become blocked by 'BIG' suitcases.

Be grateful that you don't experience the chaos you have described every day. Some of us do!

I hate FGW said...

Funnily enough, I have in fact been using Reading station every day to get to my late shifts, because by the time I finish work, I simply can't get home to my nice local station, as trains aren't stopping there at night at the moment. So, I'm driving to what you describe as "one of the worst stations" in order to make my journey a bit easier. I admit I don't have any experience of Bristol Parkway, but I think I see my fair share of station chaos, as well as all the delays that go along with using FGW on a regular basis. Since your problems sound bad, I hope you've ordered a badge from me!

Anonymous said...

how are things in pangbourne. have you been flooded out