The Magical Tube

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I think one thing I will sincerely miss about London is the tube and the ease of public transportation. It is a huge vessel for freedom. I can go anywhere at almost any time of day. I can truly move around freely and do whatever I want in London.

It’s very different from the United States, or at least most cities in the United States. Los Angeles, where I am from, is a driving city and not necessarily a true city in certain aspects. It’s spread out to a greater degree than a city like London or New York. Public transportation does exist in the form of buses, but the bus system is generally not very reliable or effective. Partly because of L.A. traffic as everyone drives. Driving as your main method of getting around also means that there’s more time and planning required to go out. It’s not like simply leaning into a whim and being able to walk to a tube station and finding yourself in the center of London in a few minutes. With the tube everything is at your fingertips.

Not only is the tube magical in its ability to take you anywhere, but the bus system is also great too. It’s well connected, although it does take longer, and is ‘old reliable when the tubes aren’t running. You can get to almost anywhere in London via the bus although it does generally take longer than the tube. This may be considered child behavior, but it is nice to be on a bus when you can see the outside unlike the tube. I love sitting on the top level of a bus in the front seat with the wide windows from where you can see almost everything. Is this a highly coveted spot for children? Perhaps.

I think tube etiquette is very interesting as well. Making eye contact is a big no. Striking up conversation with a stranger, also a no. Unless in very specific circumstances such as the late hours of a Friday or Saturday night. People will most likely entertain your conversation to be polite, but it’s weird to do so. On the tube you keep to yourself. And if you must spy on people, you can do so discreetly by pretending to intently gaze at the map of the stops situated above the seats. Everyone keeps to themselves on the tube, so it’s as if everyone exists in their own bubble despite being centimeters apart from one another, sometimes there are no centimeters, you are quite literally pressed up against each other. I think there is a certain degree of ease in the fact that you can essentially count on being unbothered whenever you are on the tube. There’s a feeling of solidarity in that we are all riding the same tube, in the same car, but we are all in our own space. However, during rush hour, people show a strong willingness to pack into a given carriage that surprised me at first. Given how everyone seems to keep to themselves I thought there would be less willingness to tightly pack in. You think you are at maximum capacity in your car and then you are proven wrong. You might find yourself nose to back with a stranger, pressed up against someone very tightly in the tube. Tube culture is very interesting in this manner.

People watching is very interesting and rewarding. I’ve gotten to see tender moments between a parent and child, such as a father peeling the white hairs of a tangerine because his daughter insisted that she didn’t like “hairy oranges”. It’s always a pleasure to see dogs on the tube. It’s interesting to see what people are reading or what they’re wearing. A truly magical moment is when you run into someone you know on the tube. I met a friend on the tube once, and it was very miraculous considering the odds of being on the same train when they run every few minutes and then being on the same car in the train.

Attached: I do not happen to have any photos of the tube (I think that would be classified as suspicious behavior to be snapping photos while on the tube, but this is a photo of Canary Wharf which has a specially built line (DLR) which is very nice to ride on).