The final part of my journey to work consists of getting the Waterloo & City line from Bank and arriving in, well, Waterloo. From there it’s a 5/10 minute walk to my office. For the vast majority of the time, this part of the journey is super-empty and peaceful.
Occasionally, the Tube is busy and my route out on to Waterloo Road (the exit by McDonald’s for all you culture vultures) is crammed with people. The queue runs along the concourse, up the stairs and along the balcony towards the Waterloo & City entrance.
Given that I am from England, the first time I experienced this I joined the back of the queue. Fifteen minutes spent huddled in a group to make the 100-yard journey out of the door. The hundreds of us in the queue did the polite thing and avoided eye contact, instead choosing to sweat profusely in very close proximity to each other.
On reaching the end of the queue, I realised no-one was doing the same route as me. Every person in that queue was turning to the left and heading down the escalator to the Tube. I, on the other hand, just needed to turn right and walk out. Queuing for this amount of time was unnecessary, but left me with the situation no British person wants.
I had to queue jump.
The next day the queue was as long as I had ever seen it. The balcony area was overloaded with people, five-wide the whole way. Spotting a small gap to the far right, I slid in and began my adventure. Whilst my Britishness meant this would be an exhausting task, I had come armed with my very British secret weapon. The words “excuse me”.
These two words are like kryptonite to someone from the UK. Say “excuse me” and, no matter how adamant a person is that they don’t want to move, they’ll instantly step to one side. It’s like they don’t have a choice. This was the case here, with the first few “excuse mes” working like a charm. I could feel the fellow passengers staring daggers in to the back of my head, but I continued, unperturbed. I would not be stopped.
A small woman with headphones caused no problem, as I placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and softly ushered her to one side. The crowd continued to part, allowing me to make my way through most of the group, dozens of growling people left behind in my wake.
At the top of the stairs, I encountered my biggest challenge yet. My “excuse me” had no impact on the man in front. I offered it again, but nothing. I was trapped. Realising I had little option left, I crumbled to my last resort and offered a meek “sorry”.
Success. He moved to one side.
But did he? As I moved towards the gap, I realised he had only left a miniscule amount of space. Ah, a worthy opponent. In the face of my unBritish queuing technique, he counter attacked with a very British “pretend to offer space but actually not leave enough, so you’re seen as both polite and yet getting across your displeasure with the other person”. I think he may have even given me a sharp sniff, as if to say “what do you want me to do? I’m moving as far as I can”. This guy is a pro.
The best part about all of this, of course, is that no-one actually tried to stop me. As far as they knew, I was just pushing ahead of them to get to the Underground. At no point did I say I wanted to use a different exit (I’m not entirely sure why). Even though every person in the queue became consumed with rage (and trust me, the resentment couldn’t have been clearer) no-one actually refused to move. I love this country.
This was until I met the final boss on my adventure. The Bowser to my Mario. The person forever to be known as “The Man Who Refused To Move”. I offered an “excuse me”, but he didn’t listen. I tried “sorry”, but nothing. He may have pretended to not hear me, but unless he was deaf (oh my God what if he was deaf?) he knew I was there and refused moved. I tried to give him a small shove, but he remained stoically in position. No gentle coercing was going to move this mountain of a man. I was stuck. Queuing resentfully. The only real way to queue in London.
But, what’s this? As the bottom of the stairs approached, he turned his body to move towards the escalator. There’s space! Not much of it, but manageable.
I extended my arm in to the gap and my body followed, pushing him towards the rest of the crowd. He turned to look at me, his face contorted in the most vicious of scowls. I offered a smile and a shrug, and mumbled an explanation so quietly even I don’t know what I said. But I had made it.
At long last, I was there. Like an action hero, I refused to turn back to face the explosion behind me. I left the inevitable chaos behind as I stepped out in to the cool, awfully-smelling air of Waterloo Road. My day had just begun.
Queue jumping rating: 1 revoked passport out of 10