10 Annoying Behaviours on the London Underground

Londoners have a love-hate relationship with their metro system The Tube; but it’s more than just standing on the wrong side of the escalators or not moving down the carriage that gets their goat.

Today there’s even more to be annoyed about, like the Pole Hogger, the Backpack Whack and the Ticket Gate Overtake to name just a few. Just see how many of these you recognise:

1) The Backpack Whack

Sometimes a person enters a crowded carriage wearing a huge backpack. They should really be taking it off and carrying it onboard and put it on the floor because ankles don’t need to breathe.

Often the backpacked person won’t be aware of the backpack on their back and they may sway backwards and forwards and side to side, hitting others with their load.

The Backpack Whack occurs when they turn to leave and hit someone with their backpack. They may not hear a thud, nor the tut nor a passive aggressive cough, but they won’t make anything of it, because separated by 20 kilos of load, they didn’t hear or feel a thing.

They then might rotate in the opposite direction to let another person pass them and hit a second bystander. This is the Backpack Double Whack.

2) The Ticket-gate Overtake

This happens when a passenger is ready to enter the ticket gate, is just about to touch in their Oyster card and a mystery hand holding an Oyster card tries to touch in first.

After a moment’s deliberation the mystery hand realises the impossibility of the situation and retreats. The Ticket Gate Overtake is rarely successful.

3) The Pole Hogger

The vertical pole in the centre of the carriage is meant to be a handle for several people to hold on to. One type of person begs to differ – this is the Pole Hogger who believes this vertical pole is there just for him to lean on and gently massage between his shoulder blades. In an extreme situation he may try and butt-clench it.

Passengers who wish to hold on to this pole can only really hold on to the pole above the the pole hogger’s head (awkward if he is tall), or the gap behind his neck (perhaps too intimate), or in the small of his back (definitely too intimate).

The pole hogger might perform other manoeuvres like looping an arm around the pole to hold a drink or a book or both or worst of all amateur twerking on the night train.

A related activity to pole hogging is handle hogging. This is not gymnastics. This is plain greedy.

4) Getting on before letting people get off

This is considered by scientists to be quite difficult because space is needed in an object before that space can be occupied by other matter. This rule generally applies in all situations from particle physics, quantum physics and metro systems.

5) The Late Arriver

Being late is said to be fashionable but this one is just plain annoying. The late arriver comes just as the carriage is packed and a series of beeps sound to herald the closing of the doors. Then in jumps another commuter as the door closes and takes up the breathing space.

6) The Early Leaver

The Early Leaver is worse than the Late Arriver, because the Early Leaver is a pessimist. This type of passenger gets up to leave the carriage way too early, sometimes when the train is still moving, so the crowded passengers have to make like the Red Sea and part for them. Sometimes they may get up and stare at you from close quarters and occupy the spot you were standing on, leaving you to awkwardly bend away and not hold on to a handle while the train comes to a stop.

The early leaver is often seen getting off at stations where many passengers are getting off any way like Victoria and King’s Cross. That makes it super-annoying.

7) The ‘I couldn’t do this every day’ person.

This is the person who, on a packed rush-hour train announces their opinion out loud saying, ‘I couldn’t do this every day.’ Thanks for sharing that mate, and in case you might be interested, I don’t say when I go down to the countryside, ‘I couldn’t do this every day’.

8) The angry train driver

Occasionally the train driver loses it. This is usually because when packed commuters lean on the doors, the train lurches to a stop automatically and rather suddenly often in a tunnel. Silence ensues. Suddenly the tannoy rustles and a gravelly Dalek voice yells,

‘This is your driver. Whoever is leaning on the doors can they stop it. I will not continue until you stop leaning on the doors. Stop leaning on the doors. Stop. Leaning. On the doors, exterminate, EXTERMINATE …’

This is vexing because when passengers lean on the doors, they generally don’t do it out of choice.

9) The umbrella jouster

The person with the long golf umbrella who insists on holding it horizontally instead of vertically as if on a steed ready for a joust. This person sometimes wears brogues and salmon-coloured jeans and the brolly usually sports the name of an Asset Management company.

10) The cross-legged hurdles

This is the seated line of passengers who sit cross-legged giving those who wish to pass down the carriage a little series of hurdles to step over each foot without touching. Treat it like a little game, as if you might get electrocuted if you do.


With input from Heloise Bonnard and Brooke Nye, ’10 Annoying Behaviours on the London Underground’ was first published on the blog heyloons.com



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