London’s public transport system is not a chivalrous place. It is the daily evidence that the rat-rate is aptly named, but the generally low standard of manners that can be seen here make it an easy place for a modern gentleman to stand out.
People consumed with getting to work, getting home, or getting to their next meeting are, for the most part, entirely inconsiderate of those around them. Below are a few classic examples of the type of behaviour that is often seen on the tube, which the Perfect Gentleman should avoid:
The ‘door hugger’: These travellers value the extra seconds that they will gain by being closer to the door over moving down further into the carriage in order to allow others to board behind them, so will only move as far as the door lobby once they have boarded.
The ‘cork in a bottle’ The person who is not intending to disembark at this station, but finds themselves in the middle of the open doorway, who, instead of temporarily disembarking and moving out of the way of the alighting passengers, will remain in the bottleneck, preventing others from entering or exiting the train, ensuring that the doors close before the full usage of the available space has been obtained.
The ‘jammer’: The person who will not wait for the next train, no matter how fill the carriage is, and will, by brute force, push their way onto the train, forcing the other passengers to invade each other’s personal spaces.
The ‘tracker’: The person who tracks the incoming train, and positions themselves in front of the doors, thus making it more difficult for the passengers to disembark (especially those doors that are directly aligned with the transition from one line to another or the way out of the station).
Whilst there is no particular malice in these actions, there in a general lack of consideration for the needs and wants of others, and the dynamic flow of crowds, that make for undesirable behaviour for the Perfect Gentleman.
Another opportunity for the gentleman to rise above is the gesture of giving up your seat. The two schools of thought are either that it is still considered to be gentlemanly behaviour to offer your seat to a lady, or that in offering your seat, you are assuming that ladies are a weaker sex, and therefore being sexist.
A gentleman should always offer his seat if the person is:
– injured, on crutches, or visibly struggling to stand
– pregnant (often these days wearing a “baby on board” badge)
– travelling with small children
– using a wheelchair, a child’s buggy, or has a lot of luggage, and the gentleman is sitting on one of the fold-down seats.
A gentleman might also wish to offer his seat as a flirtatious gesture, either flirting with the person to whom they are offering their seat, or someone travelling with the beneficiary of your gesture, or someone that you might already be travelling with.
It is also worth noting that on the London underground system, it is customary to stand on the right on an escalator, and walk up or down on the left. If not intending to walk on the escalator, you should signal this intent early by committing yourself to the right hand queue, rather than try to cut in later. You should also move away from the bottom of the escalator quickly, as those behind you have no control over their continued forward movement.
Similarly, you should stick to the left when entering and exiting the station, or when transferring between platforms.
Just think how much more pleasant it would be to travel by train and underground if all the gentlemen were Perfect Gentlemen.