EVERY DAY I am reminded about my “first” time. Surprisingly, it was only 3 years ago and I was pretty good at it (even if I must say so myself!)
I was in charge and knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to get from this experience and I had a handy little thing called the Tube map that showed me all the different ways of getting me around.
Not knowing too much about this new encounter, I dove in head first and acted like I knew exactly what I was doing. It was a bonus for all those involved because it was quite a satisfying experience and we all know how awkward our first time can be.
There can be a lot of pressure to pop your ‘Tube cherry’. It may be because all your friends are doing it or simply because it’s quick, reliable and takes you to places you have never been before!
These days I get in there, do what I have to do and get out! Sometimes I even change my everyday routine and get off earlier than my usual stop just to spice things up!
You can easily tell when someone is having their ‘first’ time by a few simple warning signs.
First, they spend about 15 minutes at the ticket machine trying to figure out exactly where the place they were told to go is. Then they try and work out how all these pretty coloured lines link up with their head buried in the Tube map. Often it becomes a little too much, so they give up and ask for help from the station conductor. Nevertheless, they eventually get their ticket and away they go!
That was pretty easy they think! Definitely not like the movies though!
It’s when they get to second base that they think to themselves.. What have I got myself into??! Am I really ready for this?
Standing on the platform looking up at the signs, pushing through the crowds of people, trying to MIND THE GAP, all whilst wondering if they are on the correct line for their destination. Pretty daunting stuff!
Going with the flow, they jump on the next Tube that arrives anyway. They are pushed out of the way by the more experienced passengers who rush to get a seat. Looking up at the map on the carriage, they count on their fingers exactly how many stops until it’s time for their next move.
After reaching into their bag and grabbing some protection (hand sanitizer), they blankly stare around at people until they build the courage to ask someone.. “Does this go to Leicester Square?”
Still unsure of their next move, they are again puzzled when they reach a station and the driver announces: “This train terminates here ALL CHANGE PLEASE, ALL CHANGE.”
Almost being trampled in the stampede of people, they too rush off the Tube and calculate their next move.
Once they reach the escalators they stand on the left hand side (because that’s how it’s done in Australia) and are abruptly asked to move to the right. Reaching the ticket gates and realising they are not at Leicester Square they ask for more directions. Oh the joy!
“You need to get on the NORTHERN line from this station and it’s literally like four stops away, yeah.”
The Northern line of course is back down the escalators and across from the platform they were just at. Starting to get hot and flustered, they rush back down to the platform just in time for the arrival of the next tube.
Now they are where they want to be.. cool, calm and collected, they find a seat and in their minds they reassure themselves that they are on the right track. They check their tube map and take another look at the map on the carriage. They are finally getting into it.
Just when they are getting the hang of things they hear “THIS STATION IS LEICESTER SQUARE” and in a heartbeat it’s all over!
With a smile of satisfaction they hop off the Tube and are on their way. Feeling chuffed with their performance they think, ‘Next time will be better, I know what I am doing now’! Then mentally hi-five themselves on a job well done.
I guess popping your ‘Tube cherry’ is like a rite of passage whilst living in London. You can always take things slow and walk around this wonderful city or jump on a passing bus, but I guarantee you won’t get the same experience.
There are many things I haven’t quite worked out yet (like men), but the Tube, I know!