I'm Surrounded By Idiots

An MTR train on the island line I'm surrounded by idiots.

Well... not really surrounded, but it sure seems that way at times.

We were waiting for a train at the Mei Foo MTR station. We boarded when it arrived. The doors closed; we were off.

No we weren't. The doors opened. MTR trains are equipped with sensors in rubber-padded buffers on the doors. They detect blockages and automatically open the doors in case something gets caught, like someone's neck, for example.

It happens often during peak traffic when people try to jump in at the last moment and don't succeed. The platform supervisor, along with recorded reminders, requests everyone to stand clear of the doors.

"The doors closed; we were off. No we weren't."

Such was the case this time. The doors closed; we were off.

No we weren't. The doors opened again. People seemed mildly annoyed. Some looked out the door to see who was blocking the entry. Announcements played again. The doors closed; we were off.

No we weren't. The doors opened yet again. Now I was getting ticked off. I'd seen this before. I once watched a moron stand with his heel hanging over the door track. Every time the doors closed, they struck his heel and sprang back open. He stood there as though nothing was happening. I figured the same thing was happening now; it was probably the same guy. More announcements came. The doors closed; we were off.

No we weren't. The doors opened. Everyone on the train was infuriated. The platform supervisor made louder announcements in the hope the idiot blocking the door would stop drooling on himself long enough to move further inside the compartment. There was a commotion on the platform, but I couldn't see it. A few moments later, the doors closed; we were off.

No we weren't. Incredibly, the doors opened once more. I had two thoughts:

1. This train was delayed; others were being backed up.

2. Someone ought to be fined, but there are no fines for stupidity.

More announcements were made. At last, the doors closed; we were off. This time the train rolled. If you thought it was maddening to read, you should have been there.

· ƒ ·

We'd been delayed so long that when we reached our stop, I saw the next train on the line zip into the station seconds after our train had departed.

The best way to solve the problem would be to electrify the edges of the doorways. When someone gets zapped a couple of times with low-voltage current, he'll be mindful to stand clear. Aaaaaah, but there'd be lawsuits. Drat.

Getting into the Mei Foo station was another matter. The scrum at the turnstiles was thick with bodies. I was holding Mabel's hand, and as we got closer, it became difficult for her to walk by my side, as people pushed and shoved to gain position. It amazes me how selfish people can be.

"This smacks of serious navel-gazing ..."

My primary goal was to place Mabel in front of me, so she could go through the turnstile first, because experience has taught me that should I allow our arms to become extended while holding hands, people will move in between us and we'll be forced to break contact. This smacks of serious navel-gazing, proving the axiom that no one on Earth is as interesting oneself.

Although we were literally two small steps from the turnstile, a young woman felt compelled to jump in front of us by squeezing through the eight inch gap between me and some crates stacked to my right, from a bakery shop situated next to the entrance. This occurred as I was trying to make room for Mabel to move in front of me. I noticed a man to our left contemplating a flanking move around my wife to jump ahead of her on that side, but the look on my face convinced him otherwise.

We made it through the scrum and onto the train with the dancing doors. Arriving home, it felt like a haven. Small, but a haven.

And 100% idiot-free.

September 23, 1999

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