Empty Tube Carriages

Every Londoner has done it at some point. A packed tube pulls into the station, but the carriage that stops in front of you is surprisingly empty. But it’s early in the morning and you’re only half awake so instead of being suspicious you just get on.

And just as the doors close, your nose alerts you to the problem. An extremely unpleasant smell is coming from the rather dirty person slouched motionless across three of the seats in the carriage. There’s nothing you can do until the train stops at the next carriage. You just stand there as far away from the source as possible. But you can’t help looking back as morbid curiosity makes you wonder if he has died.

That was me on the Central Line this morning[1]. The end of a particularly nasty journey to work.

[1] By which I don’t mean I was the smelly dead person. I hope that’s obvious.


  1. Once I was travelling to London at some ungodly early hour to see a client. Threw myself down on the train seat and went through the following in quick succession:

    1. What’s that nasty smell?
    2. Good grief – it must be the toilets
    3. Too strong for the toilets. Some bugger has pissed in the carriage!
    4. (Look down and spotting wet patch on floor)
    5. Shit. Some bastard has pissed on the floor under this seat!
    6. (Sudden sinking feeling as I realise that something damp is soaking through my shirt)

    Really good start to the day.

  2. If I had to have one or the other, I’d rather sit in piss than shit. I wonder if that is a universal observation or culturally-specific?

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