So the yellow tabarded ones who announce your train is late and who never know why are on patrol. In amongst the heaving rush hour crowd one man dares step over the yellow line. It causes more outrage than a Guantanamo inmate escaping the barbed wire fence and crossing into Cuba.
‘Get back behind the yellow line sir. You’ve been told,’ says one. I half expect her to whip out an AK47 or at the very least a baton.
‘No I’ve been advised. Not told,’ he says calmly.
It seems like a reasonable put down to the lady who I really want to tell is actually on the other side of the yellow line herself. She doesn’t like his response and so she calls for back up from a PCSO on her walkie talkie. I mean really. I wonder why she is doing this. Firstly because the man isn’t doing anything wrong, secondly – why call a PCSO? A non-verbal infant has more power to make you do something than one of them.
And thirdly, and most importantly, the man is now on the train to Bedford which is being held up as the PCSO tries to wrangle him off it. The train is waiting to depart. I am waiting for it to depart because my train is behind it and I want to get on it, absolutely HAVE to get on it, because otherwise I’m going to miss the preview of New Moon which I’ve just won tickets to and I can’t believe some lady in a yellow tabard is standing between me and RPatz. I am enraged. I start arguing on the man’s behalf demanding that the train be allowed to leave because she is holding up thousands of commuters who need to be places.
‘Madam,’ she says, ‘The man swore at me. I have the right to work without abuse.’
‘He so did not swear at you. I was standing right here,’ I retort in front of hundreds of other commuters.
‘Actually,’ A voice pipes up from the crowd, ‘he did swear at her before.’
‘Oh.’ Hmmm I think, now I look stupid. ‘Well – ‘ I say, ‘Is it worth holding up hundreds of people because your feelings got hurt?’
‘How would you like to get sworn at in your job?’ she asks me.
‘Oh it happens all the time,’ I say. I’m thinking of my work husband – admittedly he doesn’t swear AT me but I think the guy from The Thick of It is his hero. ‘I don’t let it bother me.’
The long and the short of it is finally the PCSO with no power gets the man off the train. Wus. I make it to the cinema and without missing a single second of morose indie soundtrack, tortured teenage angst faces and underage hotness but only because Michael Sheen (he of Frost Nixon) is stuck in traffic. Thank you Traffic.
After the film I’m reflecting on the craziness that London commuting causes and wondering if the man is still being held and tortured by the yellow tabards, when a man next to me at a crossing starts screaming at a car that cuts him up. There’s such anger, so much pent up rage everywhere I think, as I step carefully away from him. Is it the result of living in a mammoth city built on stress and speed? Will it be like this elsewhere? And how have I become immune to the swearing and the disrespect? Shouldn’t I care about how the yellow tabards are made to feel? Where’s my goddamn empathy? I need to get it back. Maybe I’ll find it in India.
Though even if I do, the next person who gets between me and Edward Cullen or Eric Northman is going to see me cross that yellow line.