Vicki Moore

Parents Vs Commuters the secret war of the underground.

written by Vicki Cockerill

  1. #parenting
  2. #travel
  3. #baby
  4. #toddler

I have always avoided taking Elijah on the train to London, and the tube. I think the last time was when he was around 6 months old. It was just after he had surgery and we had to meet my friend at Epping. Now, Elijah is a bit of a terror, especially if he is bored. I am not the biggest fan of the underground either. I guess this is where is shows I am from ol’ Bumpkin land (Norfolk).

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I think for me it is the rush, I hate it. I would rather wait, take my time and not be pushed about or stand with an armpit in my face, and a briefcase pushed against my bum! I knew it probably wouldn’t be the best taking a toddler but was I that naïve to think it was okay for us, as parents to use the underground? I apparently was wrong.

We were going on a little staycation to Milton Keynes. So this meant, two trains and the underground. In peak times. We were a bit apprehensive to say the least at how this was going to go but we went ahead. Elijah was in the pram, we had a suitcase and the Pacopod changing bag. The first leg of the trip was okay as it was one train for 2 and half hours. That is until we lost the tickets as they didn’t print, had to spend God knows how long in the ticket office, and missed our connecting train. By this time, I was slightly frazzled as had been pushing Elijah around Liverpool Street bribing him with apples for quite some time. We were now in full blown rush hour.

As we finally embarked on getting the tube, I noticed something, in amongst all of the pushing, the rushing people were giving us dirty looks. They actually had a look of disgust on their face when they saw me trying to get through with the pram. They didn’t move, they carried on walking in front of it. Not one person let us through, they just barged on through.

I was in shock, where were the manners. I didn’t expect special treatment just because I am a parent and had a pram, I expected manners. People were tutting at us, and looked on as they saw me and Greg carry him down the stairs with a suitcase and changing bag. However, this was the point I saw a small glimmer of light in the fact a lovely young who girl offered to carry our suitcase down the stairs for us.

There are a few good commuters

Everyone crammed on the tube and began pushing me (as I had my back to the doors with the pram) as they thought I was just being awkward and not moving. Not the fact I was impaled on my son’s push chair. It was hell. I would never do it again, if you do this every day at this time, God bless you. You deserve a medal. I just couldn’t shake the feeling people were looking down on us. That we shouldn’t have been clogging up the tube. I mean how dare I take my son out? We didn’t plan to travel at this time, but circumstance made it so. But that is no reason to make someone feel like they shouldn’t have been there.

There are very few times I have been made to feel like that as a parent, like I didn’t deserve to do the exact same thing everyone else was doing. Getting from A to B. I mean if you are in so much of a hurry that you feel the need to push a mother and her pram out of the way, I think you need to reassess your priorities. Nothing is that important. It was young and old travellers alike. I was just dumbfounded. Is there a rule we didn’t know about? Some secret code? That you should never ever take your child and pram on the tube? That we are not permitted to use this service, sorry you have to walk? If so, Borris Johnson you could have let us Norfolk folk know.

We eventually made it off the tube, to our connecting train and again, we were met with disdain and disproval from the other travellers. I could pick out the parents as they gave us a smile and nod in sympathy! They knew what was happening! As we were running to catch our train which was delayed I had to run through the normal ticket barrier. I managed to get the pram through and the changing bag stuck in the gate which me and Elijah thought was hilarious. However, to the lady in the mint green dress I am so sorry I seemed to have ruined your day by holding you up for 10 seconds. I am so sorry you felt the need to look down on me and my child, and I am so sorry you felt like you couldn't manage to exercise any sort of common decency and manners towards us. I really hope you got where you were going and it was worth it. One thing is for sure, you taught me a valuable lesson in parenting. I will ensure my child is brought up with manners and will never make anyone feel like how you made me feel in that split second interaction.

Elijah enjoyed the train at least!

The connecting train wasn’t much better. As it had been delayed we were packed in like sardines. We folded the pram down and I had Elijah perched on my lap after a lovely gentleman who was a father too, gave us his seat. One lady was actually expecting us to give her our seat as she had a ‘bad back’. I had a small 2-year-old child who doesn’t exactly understand the art of holding on to something to avoid being thrown down the train! So poor Greg had the pram, the suitcase and the bag all balanced on one another to give this lady a seat. Bad back? She spent the whole time hunched over doing a bloody crossword! She also showed her disgust publicly when wheelchair users were let on. Here, is where I would like to thank the two gentleman who to give us some more room stood for their entire journey in the toilet! For wishing us luck with the rest of the journey.

By the end of the line we had arrived. Finally, after 2 bottles of prosecco later when the little man was in bed I was still annoyed about how I was made to feel. Those people tutting and giving us dirty looks are no better than me, I didn’t expect any VIP treatment, just common courtesy. The same that you give to any other human being. We all had places to get to, we were all frustrated, hot and tired. Yet, it only seemed like the parents where the ones who apparently behaving reasonably.

Is there a secret war on that we do not know about on the underground? That parents make up one side and commuters the other? I have to say the return journey was seamless, going at midday seemed the perfect time, and we even had a whole tube carriage to ourselves! But it has left a really bad taste in my mouth, one where i wonder for the next trip we do, do I need to don the armour, gather the troops and head into the battle field of the underground, leading the parents?

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