Diary of a Tubeworker: Absolutely essential?

Submitted by AWL on 21 April, 2020 - 7:50 Author: Jay Dawkey
Tube workers

While I waited for my train into work I heard three separate automated announcements.

One from a member of staff, one from an NHS paramedic and one from the child of an NHS worker. They had one message in common “Do not travel unless you are a critical worker making an absolutely essential journey”.

That first part is right, but that second part? Well, why are TfL playing me a message about not travelling unless absolutely essential when they want me to come in right now at 23:00 on a Friday? This week I was unlucky. I didn’t get my act together, emails went unanswered and my phone calls didn’t get me anywhere, so I’m back on a night shift, for Night Tube, which is... closed.

Maybe I can just go home and cite that message? Something tells me that won’t work. I think at least I will get plenty of my book read. Since I was put back on the stations from my cancelled training as a Tube driver, I have finished five books. I can at least look to that as a positive.

When I get to work, I am greeted by the now familiar “What are you doing back?...Oh yeah, training cancelled... sorry man”.

I can hear the same video I have heard played dozens of times now from N’s phone. “All these dead birds, around Kent on the M25, and why?...5G”. Given cinemas are closed, this video must have had more views than any of the films that were released in March.

I ask N if he has watched to the end. “Yeah, I mean, maybe it’s crap but you don’t know, lots of things the government haven’t told us”. “So you get to the bit where he lists all the other things that aren’t true like 9/11?” “Yeah, look, the guy is probably crazy, but maybe he has a point about this”.

It isn’t the first conversation I have had about 5G. People I work with circulated a petition on WhatsApp calling for a halt to the roll-out. Political awakening from YouTube is definitely people’s first choice. Last week someone was watching David Icke on an Ipad on their way into work.

More people have started bringing in books to read, though. From before, people always knew I read, always asked what I was reading at any one time. Like me, most people aren’t reading much fiction, but the books they are into are all get-rich-quick type “self-help books”. I wonder how there can be so many different versions of the same arguments, and how much people believe they can just follow these gurus and get out ahead of everyone else.

When I next need to move, I can go home. I’m travelling a different route now. I get halfway and then have to wait 10 minutes for a train. On the Underground, outside of night tube, that wait is basically unheard of. It is stressful, but you can’t quite place why. At least I will get back before it rains, my phone tells me.

Oh and I’m not connected to the internet? I realise there is a trial of 4G on sections of the Jubilee line. Well, at least no birds will fall out of the sky.

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