How TFL turned me into the Incredible Hulk. 4 April 2013 Marketing intern and first-time TFL user Alex ponders the epidemic of London commuter rage

When I started university in 2011 and made the decision to stay at home, I began a daily trek by train and tube to Swiss Cottage to attend my classes. However, after a month or so, I started notice an unnerving change occurring, almost like the development of a strange illness. 

Suddenly, instead of waiting patiently for others to get off the train, I found myself huffing, puffing and barely resisting the urge to push on first. Where once I would merely roll my eyes at the elderly lady searching for her Oyster at the barrier, I was only just containing my angry yell. And even when it came to the escalators, I was sorely tempted to scream ‘STAND ON THE RIGHT, IDIOT’ to any poor, unsuspecting tourist who dared to get in my way.

It quickly became clear that I had unknowingly transformed into one of those people. A commuter.

Commuters get a lot of stick for their bad manners and miserable dispositions, which is somewhat deserved. However, I don’t think we acknowledge just how close many of us are to a temper tantrum when our journey through public transport is interrupted. Obviously I haven’t ever given in to my urges and shouted at a stranger in public, but just like David Banner and The Incredible Hulk, the angry beast is always lurking within.

At first, I thought that this was a personal affliction, and quickly looked up anger management classes in the hope of a cure, but it seems that I am not the only one affected. Indeed, I have spoken to many people on the matter and it seems we are all just as guilty of directing murderous thoughts at our fellow passengers when our morning rush hour routine is disturbed.

In fact, it seems that the problem is now so extensive, that I find myself, and others too, getting similarly enraged when walking down the street. Every time a group of tourists suddenly stops in the middle of the pavement, or a young couple are strolling slowly down the street in front of me, or when a slow walker is weaving about on the pavement, allowing no room for a smooth overtaking, I silently plot their timely demise.

So where does this anger come from? London is a busy city and everyone is constantly trying to get somewhere else, and perhaps this has left us so obsessed with the A to B that our impatience regularly gets the better of us. Although it may be true that ‘time is money’, those extra seconds spent waiting at the barriers surely can’t be that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

Short of providing lessons to TFL novices before allowing them to buy a ticket (although come to think of it, that is a great idea), the only real solution is to try and be a bit nicer to each other, no matter how clichéd that may sound. There has been the odd occasion when I have fallen foul of the wrath of another commuter, an experience that is never pleasant, and it is truly distressing to imagine a time where I might cause similar upset to someone else. So, let us all pledge together that when that little old lady starts rifling through her handbag at the gate, we will take a deep breath, smile, and keep the Incredible Hulk at bay for a more deserving victim.
 

Alex Campbell


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