Thursday, 6 February 2014

Epic Tale: The Long Wait Caused by the Strike of Tubes.

This is a new series I'm going to try. I don't know how well it will go, but let's see shall we? Basically it consists of an epic story telling of something not too epic within my week. I shall label this series:

Epic Tale: An emotional journey through the mundane.

The cold air hit me as I exited the train station. Blinking into the harsh winds, I glanced in either direction, taking in the not-too-familiar surroundings around me. It wasn't my normal station. I had previously only experienced it when passing through on the underground or changing lines to get to the destination I needed. I was on unfamiliar territory. My experience of the outside of this building limited to one dress shopping excursion with One-And-Only-Daniela a few months back. Even then, the experience had been marred by the lack of purchase. No dress had been found and One-And-Only-Daniela and I had left, feeling dejected, all hope in this area of London lost. 

And yesterday I found myself back on its streets. I pushed the sour memory of my last trip from my mind, determined not to let it poison my new experience. However, my hope for this particular experience to go well was not high. I was not here by choice. I had been forced onto the streets by the act of an industrial strike, brought together by those who ran the underground trains. My momentary indecisiveness on where it was I meant to go was cut short by the act of a body pushing into me, sending me stumbling forward. I quickly regained my balance and began moving again, although unsure of where it was I should be moving to. 

I checked my phone, desperately hoping that there would be something it could offer me that would provide some form of solace to my current predicament. I had no idea of how to find my way back to the warmth of my home from this point. A solitary rain drop fell onto my cheek, reminding me that speed was of the essence in my pilgrimage through the rough streets of London. I opened my helpful aid on my phone, by way of an application designed to provide routes home from any point within London. Finding a corner that wouldn't disrupt any passerbys, I waited for the results to show themselves. My heart warmed when I was provided with two main options via the bus transport system. One involved a 15 minute walk and the other included a bus that stopped a mere 100 yards from where I stood. I opted for the latter and joined the throng of commuters as I headed to the bus stop that would provide me with my much needed solution.  

Upon arriving at the bus stop however, a small level of fear gripped my heart. It was almost impossible to see the road, due to the large crowd of pedestrians, all desperately trying to reach the same destination I was. I felt concern building within me as I checked the times on the electronic board at the stop, searching for the estimated time of arrival for my 29 bus. 

It was here that I began to feel hope. There were 3 buses all arriving at once, and only a 2 minute wait until they reached their destination. I smiled to myself, glancing happily at those around me. Surely it warmed the hearts of these people that help was on its way. However, no one appeared to be smiling. There was only anger and sadness portrayed on their features. I felt my brow crinkle in confusion. Why were so many people so upset? What had happened here that caused this level of pain and discomfort in all I could see? 

Shaking my head and shutting my eyes to them, I drew on the strength of my own resolve. I would not let the inconvenience of a tube strike create any detriment to my character. I would stay strong. I would hold on to the comfort that my saviour, in the form of three double decker buses, were coming my way. 

It wasn't long until I caught sight of beautiful red vehicles making their way to where I stood. Looming over the other modes of transport on the road, they provided large beacons of hope to all who saw them. I reached into my pocket and allowed my fingers to wrap around the plastic folder, containing my oyster card. I was ready for payment of this journey. I would be home within the hour. 

It wasn't until they got closer to where I stood that I began to understand the dejected looks in the faces of my fellow people. Every inch of its interior seemed packed tight with exasperated bodies. The glow of the inner lights revealed their faces to be ones of discomfort and pain. I hoped against hope that, on point of arrival at our stop, the throngs of people would all exit the bus, now reaching their destination and thus providing ample space for all the cold and desperate people waiting to enter. No such luck. The buses took to stopping just before the stop, opening their back doors and letting the few stragglers who had decided to exit at this time off, before quickly shutting the doors again and driving off, not even attempting to let any of our throng onto its decks. 

The reason for the pain and dejected looks of my fellow people now became painfully clear. There was no hope in the 29 bus. It simply arrived within our vicinity to torment us with a possibility of hope in a bleak and horrific time, only to pull it away at the last moment, leaving us alone, cold and rejected. 

With that realisation falling on me, I didn't need to catch my reflection to know that my face had gone the way of those around me. I felt the harsh strike of hope lost and my heart constricted in my chest because of it. Within the space of a few minutes, we had all become a throng of zombies, huddled together for warmth whilst simultaneously finding ways to make way for those lucky enough to not need a bus to get home and needed to get by. 

By the time the 6th bus had left the stop, a new form of resolve stirred within me. I was cold, wet and there was an irritated anger creating a home in my soul. I began to move forward, negotiating my way through the crowds until I reached quieter point, just past the stop. I had realised that I would need to be clever about this, if I had any hope of finding my way home that night. So, I decided that if the buses were not able to come to me, then I would go to the buses. There was a window of time whereby the buses stopped and opened their back doors to let people exit the bus. This was my moment of opportunity. Although highly illegal and not correct bus etiquette, I realised that I would have to enter the bus this way, rather than via the correct front entrance. 

The fear of doing something so wrong sent adrenalin coursing through my body. I had found my solution. I would see to it that it would come to pass. As the next 29 bus arrived, I held my breath in anticipation, knowing that I had to be quick in order to find a way onto the bus. However, as it slowed to a stop and opened its doors, I became acutely aware of those around me who were all planning to act on the same tactic. Suddenly it wasn't about stealth anymore, but rather a battle of strength as we fought to the death to get on the only mode of transport available to us. 

After another 4 buses came and went, I realised that my own strength in my small 5 foot frame was no match to the muscle clad businessmen all acting on the same idea. I had been pushed aside, shoved backwards and altogether thrown about when I came up against them. I was dangerously close to finding a place on the corner of the street, curling up into a ball and waiting for death to find me, knowing that this was fast becoming my last remaining option. 

On the point of the 11th bus, the driver of this bus had been taken over by an angel. As it slowed to a stop, I couldn't find the strength to battle my way to its rear entrance, and so stood alone and distraught by the front of the bus. No one else joined me, they knew better than to think for one moment the bus driver would open these doors. However, something on my face must have sparked compassion in him as the welcoming sound of electronic doors opening, sounded beside me. I turned, and saw the entrance available to me. Glancing at the driver, as if to question his unfathomable kindness, I gazed in amazement as he welcomed me onto the small fraction of the bus that had space. I stepped onto the deck, momentarily stunned by the glow of his halo. The man smiled kindly, closing the doors firmly behind me. The motion of the closed doors threw me forward into the arms of an overly odorous man in his 50s. I had nowhere to go from this point and so settled into his arms as politely as common decency demanded, keeping my own inappropriate touching to a minimum. The bus took off, myself firmly inside. I apologised profusely with my eyes as I watched the envious pedestrians still on the street gaze on, tears swimming in their eyes. 

I made it home, just a mere 40 minutes later. The feeling of warmth as the central heating of my house hit my face was a treasure to me that went beyond all measure. Arriving at my bed, I fell backwards, allowing the mattress to encompass me and sooth away the trials of my day. 

Here endeth the tale of The Long Wait Caused by the Strike of Tubes. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

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