Businessmen, fashionable women, small children, creepy individuals and now Winona State students are all people who frequently use the famous underground tube system in the London area.
The tubes are almost identical to the subway or metro systems in the United States but we were all slightly confused when we were handed something called an Oyster Card. An Oyster Card is what gets us from stop to stop. Personally, I’m not sure why it’s called an Oyster Card, but I do know that I better have it ready when we transfer from one tube station to the next so I can scan my card to get to the next gate.
I don’t know if it’s because it is usually very early in the morning when we use the tube or if it’s the fact that people don’t want to interact, but I noticed that no one talks. This is usually awkward because we travel with a professor and a group of eight chatty college girls. It usually ends up with us laughing hysterically and everyone else just staring at the loud American girls.
Whenever we get on the tube, there is a recording of a woman who comes on the intercom who politely reminds us to “mind the gap.” At first, I had no idea what that meant. I quickly learned that each tube has a small space between the concrete waiting station and the actual train. “Mind the Gap,” is simply a polite reminder for us to not fall into the space.
Speaking of potential scary events, I believe that I might have jinxed a man on the tube. While waiting for the train to arrive, I asked our professor what would happen if the door slammed into someone’s body. Not even ten seconds later, I saw a man who tried to sneak out of the tube at the last second. The tube door fought back and unfortunately slammed the door on his arm. I quickly had an answer to my question. Luckily, we found an emergency open button on the side and he made it out safely in one piece.
For some people, the tube might actually be the place to mingle. Even though the ride from stop to stop is short, people of all types ride the tube. I noticed an advertisement for a match.com website– the one I saw was actually match.com/thetube! I’m not sure how that works, but I would imagine it’s like speed dating and people learn about each other, and then they switch to someone else at the next thirty second stop. Or, maybe people lock eyes from the long escalators that connect the stations. Who knows? I’m curious to know how that actually happens.
The tube system is almost like a game. I always have to guess what hallway to go down or I find myself hoping that I went on the right side of the sidewalk to get on the right train. After a few weeks of traveling by the tube, I can now manage to make it from place to place without getting lost.