Mind The Gap


courtesy FreeFoto.com

I’ve always considered myself to be pretty alert during my Tube commute. I make a mental note of people on the platform, and then have another sweep when I’m on the carriage. I listen to the driver’s announcements, just in case I need to hop off and change trains because of a delay, and I shake my head when I see people bolt just before the doors shut because they’d been staring into space and hadn’t realised they’d reached their stop. Sleeping commuters receive a similar look of contempt as I wonder if they truly intend to snooze all the way to the end of the line.

Why am I saying all this? I thought I had my commute routine pretty much sussed until I was proved wrong one evening last year…and again, last night. I was on my journey home after work, my head stuck in an e-book after all the usual observations had been made. As always, I glanced up a stop before my destination and thought “nearly there”, before I resumed reading. I can’t even remember what the book was called, some romance or thriller that must have seemed worth the attention at that moment.

I could have sworn I read only a page or two more before I looked up and realised I was three stations away from where I should have dropped off! Three stops! How was that even possible? The train had stopped four times, doors had opened and closed and I hadn’t noticed once! I became the much disdained carriage bolter as I ran across platforms to catch the train that would take me back to my station. Even though the other commuters had no idea how absentminded I had been, I was embarrassed. Very embarrassed. But after that shocker, I swore I’d never be that aloof again. What if I had an appointment and had missed it because of my own stupidity?

I was successful in keeping that promise for a whole year. Every time the train pulled into the stop before mine, I’d start gathering my stuff, in anticipation of my exit. Even if I kept on reading, I’d make sure to look up every few seconds, just in case I got too absorbed in my book. Fool proof really as the distance between the two stations is only about a minute or two. I don’t know what happened yesterday. Again, as if by magic, one minute I was at the stop before mine, next thing, déjà vu moment as I found myself making a mad dash across platforms.

Stupidity?

Fatigue?

Only heaven knows!

From now one, I’ll be switching my Kindle off at the station before my destination. Better safe than sorry.

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