a time during each day when traffic is at its heaviest
Apart from forcing us to learn more about anger management, rush hour in the City of London can teach us a lot about ourselves. From avoiding eye contact to testing out your patience, resilience, physical abilities and from choosing the right outfits to learning how to maneuver through the city, rush hour can teach us quite a few things.
1. eye contacT
If I am on a train or bus or am waiting at a platform and I feel like someone is looking in my direction, the first step is to narrow down the reasons why, for instance:
*Most preferable option
The next step is to figure out how to deal with this not-so-comfortable situation. The absolute last option is a risky one... you can stare back at the 'starer' until they hopefully look away (this could backfire, unless you're good at staring games).
Some tried and tested ideas to keep your eyes and yourself occupied otherwise, include:
There will be times when you will be surprised at what your body can do when it doesn't have a choice when travelling on a packed train. Even if it's yoga or your usual stretching exercises.
Here are five things worth practicing at home prior to rush hour:
Remember: practice makes perfect.
3. DRESS LIKE AN ONION
I once made the grave mistake of wearing a winter coat, boots, a polo neck thermal top (Heat-Tech ones from UNIQLO), a woolly skirt, hat and gloves in the Central Line in the London Underground during Winter.
Apparently this is the second hottest tube line in London in Summer, but even in Winter, this line is deceiving and you need to have an escape strategy from your very own clothes during any season.
I learnt the hard way that a polo neck top is not easy to get out of, in general and even more-so during rush hour, while standing in very close proximity to fellow commuters. Even getting out of a jumper or taking a jacket off grabs way more attention during rush hour, than is necessary - compared to a normal environment.
A lot of squirming and what may look like a bad snake-dance, while keeping a straight face, 'playing it cool' and avoiding eye contact can amuse others while making one quite self-conscious.
Dress like a onion. Wear several layers of clothes that you can peel off one by one, seamlessly without touching your neighbouring passenger. Stick to thin layers unless you fancy looking like Joey from the TV show Friends when he put on all of Chandler's clothes.
Remember to have enough space in your bag to carry all the layers, before you have to put them all back on once you leave the station to the outside world.
We have all been a tourist... yes, and we have possibly annoyed the hell out of the citizens of the city you were visiting who just wanted to: Get to work.
However much we try to empathise when we are surrounded by tourists in London during rush hour, we can't get over the fact that some:
The lesson from this is: avoid tourists during rush hour.
5. SLOW WALKERS
I'm not referring to people who are older or less able to walk quickly, but I am talking about people who somehow manage to look at their mobile phone, or even more surprisingly read a book while walking down a narrow pathway, oblivious to who or what is behind them. OR people who wear ridiculous shoes or high heels and cannot walk in them... if you can't walk in your shoes, what's the point?
To top this up, some people overtake you, and then start walking slowly. This actually happens. I will never understand why.
The good thing about London is that most commuters have learnt to invest in comfortable walking shoes, for speed. Invest in a good pair and you won't be one of the slow walkers annoying everyone else (you can always change into your pretty looking high heels or work shoes at the office).
Your best friends when using public transport, apart from real people and entertainment are:
These can help us prevent suffering consequences of unwanted pollution. Whether it's a fellow passengers' BO, bad breath, post-night out alcohol sweats, a serial coughing or sneezing neighbor who thinks it's okay not to cover their mouths / noses, or those who didn't find the time to file their nails...and of course actual emissions from cars and buses or construction sites.
For some reason, using some sanitiser after my journey into work makes it all okay (but it does dry out my hands, but we have hand cream for that too).
To sum all of this up, rush hour may seem impossible to survive on a daily basis, especially when traveling on public transport in London, but it is possible to prepare for it and hopefully master the art of the 'London Commute'.