The worst people in your tube carriage, illustrated
If you’re a Londoner, you’ll already hate them all
Hell hath no fury like a London commuter. It only takes a two-stop journey to fill the most docile Londoner with the sort of rage normally reserved for PPI cold-callers and Katie Hopkins.
That’s the thing: subterranean London seems to attract the most imbecilic, idiotic, downright irritating people our glorious capital has to offer. There’s the guy with the giant backpack, of course, and the girl loudly trying to use her phone. That’s not to mention the bloke down the end scoffing an egg mayo sandwich.
But who’s the worst of them? Who’s the commuter that, whether deserved or not, sends you into the sort of frenzy which makes you want to commit to Ubering everywhere for the rest of your life? Have a look at some of the finest examples below, and make your choice.
The one with a cold
Sniff. You shuffle uncomfortably down your seat. Sniff. You close your eyes and breathe out quietly. Sniff. You shudder visibly, and contemplate whether shooting them a dirty look is a bit too aggy for someone who’s clearly suffering.
It’s not their fault, you know, but that won’t stop you spending the whole journey staring at them with the ferocity of someone who’s been trapped in a compressed air chamber with a human fucking germ. Couldn’t they have taken an Uber?
The one who eats
They are well aware that what they’re doing is sinful, as they take another bite of their McDonald’s Chicken Legend. Their eyes will dart nervously across the seats and floor, making their best effort to avoid judgemental eye contact with anyone else in the carriage.
They’ll be in such a rush to get it over and done with, they’ll make it worse: sauce dribbles down their chin, lettuce tumbles to the floor, the greasy paper bag ends up on a fellow passenger’s lap. Everyone can see what you’re doing. Everyone can smell what you’re doing. No-one is impressed.
The one who you think is taking a photo of you for ‘Women who eat on tubes’
I swear no-one even uses that anymore.
The one who refuses to accept there’s no room
Please stand clear of the closing doors. He stands on the platform, eyeing up the teeming Boschian mass inside the carriage. Don’t do it, you think. Don’t you dare. He breaks into a run, flinging himself towards the already-closing door with all the vigour of an Olympic long jumper.
Beep beep beep beep beep aaand here he fucking is, the last man in the carriage, grinning smugly to himself as he presses his bristly chin and puffed chest into your now-crumpled head. You silently wish the closing doors had torn the smug grin right off his sweaty face.
The one who won’t move down
Can you move down, please!?
The one who asks you to move down, please
Jesus man, this is the tube, you’re not meant to just talk to each other.
The one who reads your Metro over your shoulder
THEY’RE FREE JUST GET YOUR OWN.
The one who stares
Normally, when you catch eye contact with someone, they stop staring and submissively look away. Normally.
Then you get the ones that keep looking at you to see if you’re looking at them, then start really obviously looking at you when you look at them for a second, then feel spurred on to keep looking at you when you nervously look back at them, so they keep looking until you have to hold a newspaper over your head to avoid their sinister evil old eyes.
Can we live?
The one who leans against the central pole instead of holding onto it
Yeah, we get it, you’re a bloke and you like to mark your territory – but the fact that you fancied resting on the pole means the rest of us have to spend the journey steadying ourselves and shifting our balance like a shit team of amateur paddleboarders.
The scared-looking group of tourists with their backpack on frontways
There are pickpockets in Leicester Square. There are pickpockets in Leicester Square. There are pickpockets in Leicester Square.
We’re not in a fucking Richard Curtis film hun, we’re on the Northern Line. Stop trying to ask me out, I’m wearing headphones for a reason.
The primary school trip
You might hate children, you might love them: it doesn’t matter. Cram 20 or 30 of them into a rackety tin pipe 50 metres underground and you’ll see them for the spiteful gremlins they are. Some will cry, some will yell, some will try and climb the poles and others will torpedo your legs with enough force to blast you through the carriage doors.
You want to complain to their teacher, or even better, tell them off yourself. Instead you shrug at them in a kids-will-be-kids way, and save your minacious stares for the little shits themselves.
The hen night
A blood-curdling scream. What was that? Is someone hurt? Am I going to die?
Oh no, it’s just a hen party, and they somehow manage to be getting louder and louder. You hope and pray at each stop they are going to get off. But they don’t, and there’s nothing you can do but smile and answer awkwardly as they yell at you about their night out in Tooting and the fact that Tracy bought a vibrator from a machine in the pub toilets.
The comedy announcer
“Stand clear of the closing doors, please. Yep, that means you, man in the blue suit. The pubs will still be open if you catch the next one.”
Everyone in your carriage exchanges glances and chuckles politely, with dead eyes that say “I’m expected to laugh at what the TfL man has said, but laughing is effort when I’d rather be being tortured on a rack than standing here in this train with you.”
Big backpack guy
Maybe he’s on holiday. Maybe he’s travelling. With the size of that thing, he could literally be moving all the belongings in his house. You don’t know why he’s wearing the rucksack to end all rucksacks, but you do know one thing: if he decides to turn around, he has the power to wipe out you and all of your fellow commuters.
The one who listens to loud music
No-one ever actually plays nice music when they’re listening to it really loud. It’s always something really abrasive, something really bassy and heavy, as if they’re deliberately trying to annoy you. It’s 8am, mate, I don’t need to hear Down With The Sickness.
The PDA couple
This is London. We’re all supposed to be stewing in painful loneliness, and if we’re not we’re at least supposed to hide it from public view of other painful lonelies, you fucking scab.
The exhausted mother with children
Swinging on the handrails, lining their stuffed animals up on an empty seat you could be sitting in, there may be people here smiling beatifically at the tube children like they are the future of a wholesome London, but I’m not one of them.
They’re sticky and taking up space and FOR GOD’S SAKE HER LELLI KELLI TRAINER’S GOT STUCK IN THE CLOSING DOORS.
The Clapham banter brigade
They are banging on the ceiling. They are drinking Fosters. They are the Clapham banter brigade, and by God will you have to vicariously enjoy their pilgrimage to Infernos. You’d thought after uni that the “waheeeey” rugby lads of old had died off, smartened up, perhaps moved to Milton Keynes.
But no, here they are, on your tube, still alive. Great.
The minor celebrity
Oh look, it’s Mark Rylance, getting the tube because he wants us all to know how much of a normal bloke he is. Fuck off.
The one who thinks they can use their phone even though it keeps cutting out
“Hello? HELLO? I’LL CALL YOU BACK”. Two minutes later and they’re at it again. “I WAS IN A TUNNE– hello?”
Ah, they think, I’ll use FaceTime – we all know that only works when the train is on the platform. Yet they try and try and you’re forced to listen to their frustrated efforts, grinding your teeth to powder the entire time.
How gargantuan must this man’s genitals be for him to need to have his legs at such an alarmingly obtuse angle? As you find yourself squashed against the plexiglass divider with your own legs violently buckled and shoved to the right, you can’t help but wonder if it’s a medical issue.
The one that just vomited on your late night tube
You know the story: it’s nearly midnight, and a guilty-looking reveller has just chundered all over the floor.
The noxious puddle begins to spread across the carriage floor as the tube rushes on, so you all apologetically try and lift your feet off the ground and hold your noses so you don’t have to whiff it and wonder why it’s taking sooo long to get to the next stop so you can politely remove yourself from the situation before jumping back on several carriages down.
They’re ashamed. You’re ashamed. This is the tube, though, so none of you will bring it up.
With contributions from Roisin Lanigan, Daisy Bernard, Bella Eckert and Lucy Woodham.