And I am not here to present an even more skewed and smaller opinion sample, by sharing with you my personal thoughts (not that statistically less significant than taking 2,000 from the world population of travellers, now that I think about it) on the Northern line, the No.16 bus, or the tram to Croydon. But, what I will try and do, is add an insider's context to what the world, post this week's London public relations love-in, must view as a glamorous network of privileged users enjoying the most fantastical transport system in the world. Remember, we are still talking about Transport for London here not Battlestar Galactica.
And like any self-declared (aka rogue) insider's perspective, I will use its umbrella of supposed public edification to get away with charges normally deemed irreverent or insensitive. Which leads me to the question of 'most annoying type of tube traveller?' To which the answer is (as defined here for the first time) a:
Sluber(n). Refers to anyone who is a slow tube walker. Slubers can be male or female, tourist or commuter, ipod-er or reader. They all tend to obey basic Tube Etiquette : they stand clear of closing doors; they don't look or speak to anyone, ever; and they even obediently stand to the right on escalators, the most egregious of all to ever forsake. But herein lays the barb: the obedience factor.
This is the London Underground, a cavernous cesspool beyond the circles of Dante's Inferno, which provides one purpose and is irregular at that: the movement of us, indentured spy ring facilitators (sorry, I meant users, but what do you really think the Oyster card tracking system is for?) from place A to place B. So why slubers, do you stand there still as at razor edge, and voluntarily extend your sentence? Is it a form of sadomasochism? In which case, let me recommend Man Bar.
Barring the always excused -ill, old, injured, disabled, and pregnant (not to be confused with mis-shaped A-line dress wearers); slubers have to be the most brazen proponents of shameless laziness. Their passive acceptance, as writ by their apathetic expressions, of time passing; and in this particular scenario of mind numbingly slow escalator speed, eats away at the very core of Type A, restlessness. 'How can they just stand there 'slubing' it, letting the world take its own course', we ask. After all, there are Caffe Nero queues to get incensed by just beyond the ticket barriers.
But, like everything else in life post-Joseph Heller, it would become a self-defeating course of action if we were all anti-slubbers on the left. So with all due respect for any normal people left out there using London transport, here is a song for you:
"I'm so scared in case I fall off my step,
And I'm wondering how I'll get up the rest,
Neurotics to the left of me,
Slubers to the right, here I am
Stuck in the Tube with you"
And for perhaps the best thing to ever come out of the London Underground:
check out the "irreverent and informative must-read for everybody, not just subterranean commuters" award-winning London Underground Tube Blog.