The Christmas Commuter Calls
The Christmas Commuter Calls
The vile Hansel & Gretel like trail of vomit guides the way and guides weary commuter to the temporary sanctuary that wait at the platform edge. It is Christmas and the office parties have taken their usual toll of victims. ‘Have a drink! Come on it’s Christmas!’ Finally the reluctant pin-striped nobody, the anonymous man or woman succumbs to peer pressure and downs a vodka. He or she doesn’t even drink the damn stuff but it suddenly seems rude to refuse and so they submit. After a while the whirlwind of conversation, set free from the drudgery of memos and urgent e-mails picks up an animated pace that becomes surreal. People embrace those they still despise and slobber out the usual shallow Yuletide greetings. Fired by this new found warmth of communal affection a basic homing instinct kicks in and they reach out for home.
The Christmas lights seem different today. It was as if they had been put there as a visual fanfare to herald the coming of this king in waiting. Yesterday the same festive markers pointed the way to yet another weary journey home and our faceless traveller and an unspoken Scrooge-like glance cursed the annual façade that filled the streets with seasonal shoppers barring his or her way. Every journey had a prize and if those bloody idiots would only get out of their way, they might make the 17.18 instead of the 17.30 that they often had to settle for and stopped at every lamppost so to speak. But today though the walk be unsteady it was filled with love and Christmas cheer. Our suited homing pigeon coos to all as they pass and the warmth of spirit that had eluded them all year is poured over all.
The Central Line plays out its usual game of Sardines and our hapless traveller loses several inches of waistline as they are packed in with space only for shallow breaths. The airless, confined space, the oppressive and artificial heat begins to beat our pilgrim from the inside out. The clear head that made so many vital judgements from January to early December is anything but focused now and a basic homing instinct is all that ejects them from the torture chamber of a rush-hour tube.
Liverpool Street! Gateway to suburbia and beyond and a waiting partner or lover beckons them home. The pinball journey from the tube to the train begins to take its toll. One final ricochet and the inevitable surge of vomit erupts from a stomach that doesn’t care anymore. No announcement, no ceremony, just momentary relief from the woozy nausea that has come upon our normally placid and proper person. Unnoticed looks of revulsion condemn the traveller, but the traveller doesn’t care. All they know is that muscle memory prompts them to reach for their Season Ticket and gain access to their mobile point of sanctuary that is their train home.
They are alone and rejected by those sober enough to judge. Other fellow sufferers sit in isolated silence that stretches on too long and delays the hope that reaching home will cure it all. Behind them, the Station Cleaner who they normally curse for being in their way mops up their seasonal calling card of sick and without any thought or observation moves on to the next. Our strident city slicker is now a shambling mess but tomorrow it will all be forgotten and it will become their turn to curse.