I board the City and Hammersmith line at Farringdon around 5pm or the beginning of rush hour in the evenings. I walk straight to the pole next to the door and stand next to it, as usual. A woman looks at me and then she looks at the young black man seated on the reserved seat right next to the pole. He doesn’t seem to notice her. He was probably sleepy or as my friend says, pretending to be sleepy so you wouldn’t be top choice for giving up one’s seat for an old or disabled or pregnant person. The woman continued looking at this man, now in disgust. She looked at me hoping to share the disgust, but I looked unperturbed. I quickly wondered if for the woman’s sake, I should spend my energy worrying about the man giving up his seat for me as I was carrying my baby and two bags (one with my laptop and another with my daughter’s nursery stuff), and I decided I’d let the woman enjoy the disgust herself.
We arrived at King’s cross, then Euston square, then Great Portland street but the man still didn’t offer me his seat. By then, another seat became empty else where and this woman ushered me to this seat and I sat down. As always, sitting down makes my daughter quite uncomfortable and so she starts howling really loudly unless someone distracts her my communicating with her, which thankfully some lady sitting across started to do. While the baby was distracted, I decided to reduce the number of things I was carrying my putting one bag into another before we could reach Edgeware Road where I’d have to start getting ready to get off.
Although it is a fairly interesting walk to the Farringdon station from the baby’s nursery (unlike the walk to St.Paul’s), the City and Hammersmith line always has a constant stream of people coming into the station almost all through the day. But off all the lines that come to the Farringdon station, City and Hammersmith line is almost the last priority at every intersection making it a very slow option. I usually like to trade this downside with more space on the tube compared to the central line, where you just have to let a few trains pass to be able to even get into one during rush hour, especially with a baby.
The central line during rush hour tends to have a greater number of working professionals who’re more willing to offer their seat to someone who is less able to stand, except most of the time you never manage to get anywhere near the seats because you are busy trying to just make it into the door. Given that this is the fag end of a working day and I am usually hungry and completely out of any energy when I manage to squeeze myself into a train, it is very easy to give up and lose myself in my own world, except the tube ride makes for such an interesting experience and I can’t help but look at people around from my lens — that of a girl on the tube with a baby.
From my perspective, there are two types of people on the tube — the ones that see me and the ones that don’t. The former make for a very interest subject for people watching because they can be classified even further — the ones that offer a seat out of generosity, the ones that offer a seat out of curiousity, the ones that sit and show compassion, thes ones that look through me, the ones that pretend to not see me and the ones that are still contemplating which of the above kind they want to be.
I see all these people because my hands are full (holding a pole and my baby) and my eyes are free (not looking into a phone). So, this will be a series on all the people I see and pretend not to see on the London Underground.