For the past couple of weeks the Madrid Metro has been hosting an exhibition of paintings which are the work of its own employees. The exhibition, named for one of the paintings, is called, "The Rose that Broke the Vase", which is another way of saying "The straw that broke the Camel's back". Considering that the continuing strike is trying everyone's patience, the exhibition is incredibly apt.
A new publicity campaign, (which is hardly needed - they have a rival??), claims we can travel rapidly and arrive on time wherever we want to go. I really think that those who are holding the working people of this town to ransom have a lot of work to do to win back the support of the public.
A veces (Sometimes!)
For two days last week we had no services at all until the drivers, faced with prosecution, returned to providing the contracted "Minimal Services". To give them their due, they are providing a normal service to allow the revellers of the Gay Pride weekend to get around the town, but this is no comfort to the two million commuters who face another week of threatened disruption.
“Servicios mínimos” is meant to mean only half the usual number of trains on the Metro will be running, so mathematically one could expect there to be twice as many passengers travelling on each train that does run. So why does it seem like much much more? Thanks to the drivers who sit alone in their spacious air-conditioned cabs up front, us poor people behind them have been pushed, squeezed, bent, folded, spindled and mutilated like grilled squashed sardines in a crushed can.
In the light of this new way of travelling I suggest there should be some rules that would make journeys on the metro more comfortable for all.
#1. On arrival at a platform that is obviously already packed from edge to wall, do not try and barge your way through. This applies double if you are carrying, pushing or pulling something larger than a reasonably sized handbag, such as a suitcase, backpack or large overstuffed bag filled with things you think you might need during the day. If you are carrying such items please avoid all stations during rush hour or walk. Honestly, you don’t need all that stuff.
#2. As the train comes to a stop check the inside of the carriage through the windows provided. If existing passengers have their faces squashed against the window it is probably full. If you open the doors from outside and passengers cascade onto the platform in a heap it was overfull. To gain entry to the carriage do not tread on these passengers. Push them gently to one side. Do not kick them. Do not use elbows. Do not use your suitcase, backpack or overstuffed bag filled with items you don’t really need as a battering ram. See rule #1
#3. You will find more room in the carriage if you allow passengers who actually want to get off to do so before you attempt to barge your way on. Nothing is gained if you try to push alighting passengers further into the train. Please bear in mind the law of quarts and pint pots. You are not conquistadores raiding some far off country. A few “Perdones”, “discúlpenmes”, “por favores” and “lo sientos” would make your new fellow passengers accept your presence in a better light, you mal educado zoquete!
#4. Given the fact that you will be standing much closer to fellow passengers than normal please bathe or shower before leaving your house. Before entering the station sniff your armpits. If you stink of sweat, please walk home and desist from using the metro until you have bathed, showered and changed your clothes. The exercise will do you good. Regard this as your good deed for the day.
#5. Vests and shirts that reveal sweaty, hairy armpits, of either sex, should only be worn during athletics practice or while running the Madrid Marathon. If I am forced to have a close encounter with your strap-hanging hairy smelly armpit I would prefer there were at least a single layer of cloth between it and my nose.
#6. If you have just eaten a meal containing garlic, onions or curry sauce please refrain from boarding until a completely empty carriage appears. It would be quicker for you and better for us if you walked. Ever heard of mints?
#7. Metro carriages are public areas. You cannot claim the part you are standing in as a sovereign country. It will not be recognised by the United Nations and so you should be prepared to move to another part of the carriage. This rule particularly applies if you insist on standing just inside the doors. Remember, you are not aboard ship. It is not your job to repel all boarders. Give others a chance.
#8. Finally, spare a thought for the hard-working drivers that have given up their valuable strike time to bring you their personal train. As they slow down along the crowed platform all those on the edge should wave at the drivers to thank them for their efforts. How many fingers you chose to hold up in this salute of thanks and welcome is up to you.
Long-suffering queues on Friday.
I am open to other suggestions ..........?