Last night I headed back into The City to have dinner with an old work friend. I arrived at London Bridge station around 5.30pm and I walked straight into ‘Commuter Hell’.
Now of course up until the end of June I was also that Commuter. (Caps C is intentional – I feel they need to have a ‘name’!)
The minute I exited the station and started walking the ‘wrong’ way i.e. against the commuter traffic I was shoulder barged by quite a decent sized guy running round the corner, he shouted sorry as he darted off to get the train he was no doubt late for – but of course he didn’t mean it as if he did he would have stopped to check I was ok.
As I walked over the bridge I kept to the right hand side. The bridge can easily accommodate six vertical lines of people and basically 0.5 of those lines are given to people walking against the Commuter tide. I was tutted at quite frequently. I think mainly for getting in the way but I suppose quite irritatingly I was walking slower than they were as I was taking in my surroundings and it took them longer to go round me. (It was worth going slower, it’s been three months and the view from London Bridge towards Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast are fabulous – I was also wearing heels and I haven’t done that for some time now!)
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely admit I used to get irritated by the tourists who stood in the middle of London Bridge in the rush hour – I found it highly inconsiderate :0) Having said that, I know why they do it, I loved walking over the bridge every day and on some days the colours were phenomenal (see below – no filters on any of these that I took). But I certainly wasn’t rude.
And as I walked along the bridge, for the first time I was able to look at people’s faces – as of course previously I had been walking the same way as them with my own head generally focused on just getting home. With a few exceptions, generally the groups of two or three who were chatting away most people were silent, not smiling, charging along at pace and eyes glued into their mobile phones and not the super views of London and I suppose it struck me that at minimum they should be smiling because it’s the end of the day and they’re going home.
Work life can really take over and I’m not suggesting by any means that everyone should give up the corporate life and actually for many years I loved it. But when you’re not in it you start to appreciate all the great things you have around you because quite simply you have the time to and because there is less pressure in your mind about the next ‘to do list’.
I know as far as they were all concerned I was walking against the flow and it was highly annoying for them. But as I was walking along feeling very relaxed, without looking at my phone, taking in all my surroundings with a huge smile on my face on my way to a lovely dinner I would question whether actually, is it me or them that are ‘walking’ the wrong way..?