Monday, October 30, 2006

Only The Paying Customers Are Gentlemen

Descending the escalator at London Bridge tube station at the weekend, I heard the following announcement over the public address system:

“To the guy with the rucksack and holdall currently on the escalator to the Northern Line, we would just like to inform you that your movements are now being tracked.”

I broke out in a cold sweat. Everyone had turned to look at me, what with me being the only person with a rucksack and holdall. I was too worried to even dwell on the rather informal nature I’d been addressed in (surely it should have been “Gentleman”?): I had no desire to be de Menzesed.

After a pause, the voice came again.

“We repeat, London Transport Police are being informed of your movements. May we suggest you immediately return to the ticket hall and pay your fare.”

Things then made a bit more sense, and the nervous scrutiny I was under lessened once people realised it was just a plan old case of fare evasion. Which it wasn’t.

I’d approached the ticket barriers laden with my bags, and placed the holdall on the floor so as to fish my ticket out of my pocket, open the barrier, and then quickly pick my bag up again and squeeze through before the barrier shut. As this was happening, I felt some cheeky scamp close up behind me, trying to get through the barrier on my ticket too and giving me a couple of encouraging pushes. Halfway through, I turned round and gave him a hefty shove in the chest and he sheepishly skulked off, and then turned back round and pushed my way through the now closing barriers.

I’m guessing a member of staff got a glimpse of the kerfuffle, and assumed it was me that was the fare dodger. I continued with my journey, possibly monitored but entirely unchallenged.

And unshot. Result.

7 comments:

Dancinfairy said...

That would have scared the beejezus out of me.

Curly said...

It could have been even more embarassing:-

"To the guy with the rucksack and holdall currently on the escalator to the Northern Line, we would just like to inform you that your Mother has been trying to reach you - she's worried that you haven't called in two days"

AnonymousCoworker said...

I would have had to change my socks.

Shane said...

I guess things could have got a bit more tricky had you foregone The Shove of Patience, in favour of the more crisp Shoot the Blighter policy.

Quite like Curly's alternative announcement. I was thinking:

"To the guy with the rucksack and holdall currently on the escalator to the Northern Line, we would just like to inform you that your flies are undone".

Huw said...

Curly and Shane - A similar thought did go through my head when I heard the start of the announcement:

"To the guy with the rucksack and holdall currently on the escalator to the Northern Line, we would just like to inform you that your bag is ripped and you have left a trail of your tatty underwear stretching back to platform 2."

y-vonne said...

Geez. Things in Canada are WAYYY different. A Canadian would have stopped to help the fare jumper through then apologized that we got in his way. And a Canadian version of the annoucment? "Pardon me sir, we hate to trouble you but could you come back and pay for your ticket...if that is not too much bother...?"

Chris said...

My favourite ever tannoy announcement I ever heard was on a train to London. We stooped for an unusually long time at Basingstoke and as we pulled out of the station the train driver said:
'Sorry about the delay at Basingstoke, this was due to the local station staff being incompetent idiots with no interest in restocking the train quickly. Please enjoy the rest of the journey'
The refreshing honesty made up for the delay completely