Yet again I find myself writing a post about doors. This time though it’s not the idiocy that was the shop with no doors. Nor is it about the unsettling jinking around at the shop *with* doors. No, this time it’s proper, honest-to-goodness UNDERGROUND doors.
Or rather, their buttons.
All about the combine you will see door buttons. They are there to summon the lifts, there to tell the lift to go down or up, there to open and close the doors on the trains. I’m prepared to bet that everyone who has ever used the tube has at some point seen one of these buttons. Here’s the thing though. None of the buggers do anything.
I like to think of door buttons in terms of passenger busy-work. When you are impatiently waiting for the lift to spit out it’s load and return to the ticket hall to collect you and take you on your Very Important Journey we have a slight problem. Obviously a minute’s delay to your VIJ is going to irritate you. Now you *could* go and take the stairs but there’s five hundred and thirty two of them. And I don’t know about you but all those tight spirals leave me disoriented and once I’ve set out then there’s no possibility of stopping so God help us all if there’s someone coming the other way. I’m generally thankful that the only time I take the stairs is on dead earlies before the station or indeed, the lifts, have opened and I always make sure I am the last person to walk down. Plus, the vast majority of people are lazy and would rather take the lift. So you stand there tapping your foot and waiting for the cattle to get OUT OF THE GODDAMN LIFT ALREADY! DON’T THEY KNOW THERE ARE VERY IMPORTANT JOURNEY-GOERS UP HERE?! and at that moment you spy a blue shirt passing by.
This then, is the problem. CSAs don’t want to talk to you about how long the lift takes and is there a strike going on at the bottom of the shaft and who installed these things anyway and why the hell is it taking so long because if you are late for Auntie Beryl’s birthday tea then she can get *awfully* testy. They’d really rather just quietly get on with explaining to people that no, they can’t lower the price just this once and yes, that beeping noise means you have to top up your Oystercard and no, you can’t bring a tumble dryer on the tube*. Not to mention the fact that some utterly clueless upstart is getting testy about how long your lift is taking to get up here and is now muttering about if he is late to Little Sally’s dental appointment there will be hell to pay as though *that* was remotely relevant to anything. No indeedy. CSAs like a (relatively) quiet life which includes many cups of tea.
So they’ve hit upon a solution. Door buttons. Door buttons are installed throughout the tube to keep people from exploding. It gives them something to do, something to make them feel proactive and superior and something to stop them asking the staff sarcastic questions. There is no need, after all, to be asking staff sarcastic questions. You can’t access a Line Controller for a proper sarcasm fight, a traindriver will just look at you blandly, nod, possibly point you in the direction of another line and then amble slowly away. And frankly, if you sarcast at a little CSA then you are the lowest of the low and unfit to be seen in decent society. The poor lambs – even Auntie Beryl would disapprove.
So press the button to call the lift (this one actually works). Then enter the lift and press the button to close the doors and start the lift. Then tut and sigh at the morons who pile in after you and prevent your lift from leaving which it otherwise would do since you’ve pressed the button (ahem). And when you get to the platform and have been shuffled about by cattle who do not understand that it is imperative that you wait at the platform entrance because then you can get the special seat (and besides, it’s COLD up that end) you can press the door button on the train just as it stops. And lo and behold! The doors will duly open. Lawd be praised. And finally, when you get to the station and want to get off to sprint up the (thank God) escalator to get to Auntie Beryl’s you can press the door-open button again and after only the briefest of pauses and sometimes a stab or two more at the button they too will open. And all is now right with the world.
All those buttons. What a wonderful invention. 🙂
* True story.