The last time I was here, I was a follower, and by that, I am referring to the fact that I just followed my friends through the London Underground and onto National Express trains. I wasn’t really sure where we were going, but they were. That is not the case this time.
I have mastered the National Express and London Underground. I can get to the train stations that are nearest the tube stations that I need to get to the building or location I am venturing to. I hustle through the tunnels and up the stairs and escalators with tbe best of them. I may be wearing a backpack, but I ain’t no fool. (Note: Tube is a generic term for an Underground, metro/subway station.)
Ha. Granted, it only really requires taking a second read your location’s description of what the closest tube stations are, looking at a map to find those stations and proceeding in the right direction. So if you can read and know your left from your right, then you can be a pro like me. However, you need that confident walk – the “Of course I know where I am going. I belong here,“ walk – to truly be a master.
Another marker of a master of this craft is the security to fall asleep on the train and the ability to wake up one stop before your stop. And trust me. These are skills!
You have to be able to sleep holding your bag in a way that no one can touch it and it won’t fall off your lap. Also, no drooling allowed. This skill is partially easy to obtain. Have you ever took a train or the tube? They are semi-smooth, sometimes bumpy rides during which it’s hard not to doze off. The ability to take care of the luggage at the same time is the more difficult part. Luckily, not everyone is a prick and will steal your stuff. But there are a few out there.
Now, the ability to wake up one stop before yours is a little more tricky. You can be asleep but still need to be awake enough to hear what’s going on. The English are really good about announcing everything and always keeping you well-informed, e.g., where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going next. So if you can hear this, then you’ll know that your stop is next. Now check your phone, make sure that no one took your stuff while you were sleeping and get ready to leave.
If you can’t do this partially awake/partially asleep thing, lean your head next to the window. You’ll bump it at every stop, including the one before the one you want. This can be slightly embarrassing, but it is better than missing your stop and less embarrassing than drooling. If you are drooling and still bumping your head every stop, you might want to consider just staying awake.
And please remember this when traveling by train and on the Underground. Always “mind the gap.”
Well, I’ve arrived in Manchester, so this must mean I am a master of the trains and tubes. I left Gravesend train station for Charing Cross train station and took the Underground to the Euston station where I hopped on a Virgin Trains train to Manchester.
I am a master. Watch me move.