07 September, 2010
So, London Underground are striking. This, of course, means that all of London has ground to a halt. They're running VERY limited services on a few chosen lines, and the rest of us have to resort to using (as the BFG puts it) the Big Red Things. This means that instead of my usual comfortable, airy half hour of a commute, it took me a sweaty, cramped hour and ten minutes.
People have opted to stay home from work. They're using sick/holiday allotment so they don't have to face a tube-less London. Business are working at half capacity. The striking union members are set up with their flags outside padlocked stations, sitting comfortably in camp chairs with cigarettes and cups of tea. Outside my office window traffic winds past at a snail's pace, blaring horns venting the drivers' collective frustration.
What fascinates me is the general attitude of my fellow commuters. Some of them are bravely fighting on, calmly taking setbacks and delays on the chin with aplomb. Then there are ... the other ones. Wild eyed and vaguely frazzled, sweaty and wrestling with briefcases and suitcases, some even to the point of tears. Angry, frustrated, furious.
I can't say I empathise with the unions. I've been without a job, and I know people who are still in that position. These people have it pretty good, if you ask me. They have very fair wages and a generous benefits package. How they can justify asking for a raise in these economic times, and then when refused the raise hold London to hostage, is completely beyond me.
I realise none of the tube drivers are going to be reading this. I apologise for the slight rant, and will attempt to make the next post more palatable. Until then, perhaps I'll be on foot...