Good Commute, Bad Commute

Posted on 14 March 2005 in Transport (No comments)

I have decided that my commute in a morning can be either very good or very bad. There is no in between state. Just very good and very bad.

Take one example. Friday morning. Leave house with plenty of time. Arrive at tube station with plenty of time. Get tube to Balham, calmly walk to the overground platforms. Am in plenty of time. There is a train in - it's a bit crammed. I casually walk down the platform to wait for the next. Just as the whistle goes, I spy a space and get on as the doors shut.

I arrive at Clapham Junction with 7 minutes to spare and casually walk between platform 13 and platform 17 to catch the 0824 Southern service to Kensington Olympia. I even get a seat.

At Olympia, I stroll down the road to do the half hour walk to White City and arrive at work 1 hour and five minutes after leaving the house.

Take example two. Monday morning. Leave house slightly later than ideal but still with plenty of time. Arrive at tube station - have just missed one but there's another a couple of minutes away.

Tube is a bit busy so stand near the door. Tube meanders to Tooting Bec. It then stands there. Note that whenever the Northern Line screws up in the morning, I'm usually one stop away from where I want to get off - guaranteed.

Tube stands on platforms for eternity. My watch counts down the trains which I am now missing at Balham. 0813, 0815... 0822 is going to be a bit tight...

Finally get to Balham. Peg it up to the overground platforms. Oh look the 0822 is going to be late.

0822 doesn't arrive. 0825 arives instead and its late. It's busy - I cram in. We stop at Wandsworth Common. A woman with three kids and a buggy crams on as well. We get to Clapham Junction.

I have three minutes to get from Platform 13 to Platform 2 in time for the 0835 Silverlink Metro service calling at Kensington Olympia.

I peg it like I've never pegged it before. I get to platform 4 and have to stop lest I collapse and die (OK slight melodrama but you get the point). 90 seconds to train departure.

I struggle onto platform 2. My shoelace is undone.

The train is rammed like there's no tomorrow. I do my best to squeeze on, followed by ten other people.

Train departs. Suddenly I feel very hot, sweaty, light headed and feel like I'm going to be sick. Oh and to cap it all, I'm desperate for the loo.

We get to West Brompton after what seems like eternity. I gasp happily at the nice air that comes in to the sickeningly stuffy carriage. I'm still feeling absolutely awful. I contemplate getting off the train and waiting half an hour for the next one. I decide against it.

After another erternity we arrive at Olympia. I stumble off and collapse on a cold metal chair painted blue. I take deep breathes, gulp at water and tie shoelace. I stagger over to the shuttle bus stop.

The shuttle bus takes another eternity to arrive. Stuck in traffic, it turns up fifteen minutes late. All I want to do is sit down - I've stood up for over an hour in cramped trains. There are no seats. I do my best to hang on.

The sickness is beginning to subside but I still feel crap as I stagger to the Broadcast Centre, dump my things and rush to relieve myself before finally collapsing at my desk. Time taken, 1 hour 25 minutes.

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