Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Late Train

Hate them all you will - and we will - but you've got to give it to London Underground; commuters of the grey cloud city have been handed a mother of a 'late pass'. We freely tap our snooze buttons; take time to prepare our cups of tea; indulge in generous helpings of BBC Breakfast; wait for trains less congested to arrive, and even stop by stores en route for doughnuts and coffee, knowing fully well that if we are late to the office, no real explanation is required.

'Sorry I'm late boss, the trains were a nightmare.'

And they probably were, at some probable time, on one of the probable lines you probably should have been on a lot earlier.

What's so sweet about this setup is that everyone from the new recruit to the office veteran has been screwed-a-plenty by our nation's national treasure of a public transport service – God bless our Queen. The phrase, 'Sorry I'm late boss, the trains were a nightmare.' does not raise alarms of deceit, but instead rings with familiarity.

Pick a card, any card; someone was taken ill on a train, someone was found under a train, or someone has pulled a passenger alarm on a train. You mavericks of unrelenting disturbance, I say thank you on behalf of London City. For on our mornings of gross lethargy and disregard for time, your past endeavours can be recalled promptly to generate an often fabricated nightmare of a journey.

Without taking the gloss off of our heroes in blue, there are two additional saving graces for any late employee:

Firstly, it doesn’t matter how late you arrive at work, as long as a departmental colleague arrives later. If you do happen notice a few absent colleagues, don’t be too hasty to pull your ‘Train Card’ (these lose value with excessive use). Instead, take your seat as if you’re 10 minutes early. You might as well be. The only person who’s actually late is the last to arrive in the office. In fact, even if you arrive 5 minutes early you’re still late if you’re the last to arrive. It’s office law.

The second is more of a desperate manoeuvre than a grace. You’re late, and you know it, but it’s Thursday and you’ve already used two ‘Train Cards’ this week. Unless your travel route makes the news – you’re now desperately praying for a crash or power outage – you’re screwed, and all recent displays of tardiness will be brought to the table. There’s only one thing for it, Krispy Kremes . . . for everyone!

More often than not this could all be avoided by resisting the urge to hit that all too easy snooze button. That snooze button which only serves the purpose of multiplying the number of times you’re angrily woken up in the morning.

But in reality, who really wants to be early for work anyway? The cleaning lady and the milkman, that’s who.

A to the . . .