I easily spend five hours a week dealing with various forms of public transportation, providing me with ample time to overanalyze and people watch. The latter proves problematic since people perceive ones stares as an indication of some kind of deviant sexual interest. And I try to avoid doing too much of the former due to its detrimental effect on my nailbeds and neck. Based on the current state of both body parts, I’d say my effort needs improvement.
Movies like Love Actually have romanticized the airport, but I think there’s equal, though not necessarily romantic, value in a Tube station. Sure, the journey is generally less dramatic, but the Tube serves as an incredibly apt metaphor for our lives–largely spent in transit, a constant search for something (maybe meaning, maybe just a really good bagel with lox), and ending in a tomb, of sorts.
Anyway, as I sit there absentmindedly picking at my cuticles and trying not to make eye contact with anyone, I like to play a super mature, grown-up version of pretend.
Scenario 1: Pretending to Be in an Inspirational Movie
I’m a corporate drone, slaving under the watchful eye of Big Brother. I found out via text earlier in the day that my fiance ran off with my adoptive mother, and I’m coming home from work to an empty, soulless, industrial-style flat. (Scene set to the tune of “Bittersweet Symphony“) When I arrive home, I either
a) encounter a homeless young girl raiding my refrigerator, find myself charmed by her tenacity and passion, let her live with me while she trains to become a veterinarian, later learn that the girl is my biological younger sister, and together open a veterinarian hospital that treats underprivileged cats suffering from leukemia, or
b) move to Northern Wales and train to become a glass blower, but soon regret my decision to cut myself off from society as the government becomes increasingly corrupt and I do nothing to help, but the day I plan to leave I meet a lonely sheep herder who asks me to assist him in his old age and who, as he lies on his death bed, reveals that he is my biological father and *plot twist* the rightful heir to the throne. I take that throne over like it’s my job. ‘Cause it is. Government reform ensues.
Scenario 2: Pretending to Be Epic
I’m running in slow motion through the tunnels of the underground with “Chariots of Fire” echoing off the cold cement. I’m probably going to save someone’s life, or something. I might actually try this one sometime, at least the running part. I hope I can convince everyone else to move really, really fast and provide me with a clear path a la Moses and the Red Sea.
Scenario 3: Pretending to Be a Sex Cell
Oh, come on. I cannot be the only once who has noticed the overt phallic symbolism of an underground train penetrating through the depths of London, full of anonymous gamete commuters. It’s warm, it’s crowded, it’s competitive. Sometimes on those trips, I really do feel like half a person. Just 23 chromosomes surrounded by a bunch of other Xs and Ys, robbed of our individual identities after years of Big City, Big Business life. Right when the journey feels as though it will never end, we eject ourselves from the quivering train, fighting our way up the endless stairwells and escalators. We’re all hoping to reach Home Sweet Ovum where, statistically speaking, we have a good chance of being alone. (Considering the amount of money that London transport makes everyday, I’d definitely agree that sex sells.)
In conclusion, I really need to start bringing reading material with me on my commute.