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The Good, The Bad, and The Americans: (or how to behave whilst on Public Transport)
The following is a list of some things that while not very important, would certainly help Anglo-American relations. We locals can spot a tourist a mile off because they break one of these cardinal Underground rules, and while in New York if you annoy a local you run the risk of bodily injury, rest assured that behind our polite smile, we´re thinking very nasty thoughts about you in our heads... Of course if you´re not American, rest assured that we take that into account as well, and will make accomodations for your handicaps as long as you aren´t French.
Don´t look for Exit Signs. There won´t be any. The way out of the tube says ´WAY OUT´. See how simple we tried to make it for you? Fortunately though, you won´t be fooled by the ´Emergency Exit Only´ signs, which non-English speakers can´t read, but still go out anyway because of the ill-designed picture depicting a person leaving the tube...
If you hear a loud voice saying "Mind The Gap" it isn´t announcing that David Letterman is nearby, nor to rush out and buy everything the clothing store demands. It means that the track curves around the platform and there can be a large tourist-sized gap between the train and the platform. Remember the teddy bear in chapter one. Don´t say you weren´t warned.
When the train arrives and the door opens, let all the ´deplaning´ passengers off first. Otherwise there´s no room for you to get on, people end up brushing against each other, chaos reigns, and the Empire falls. There´s always enough time for you to get on, and the train driver´s watching you anyway, so don´t worry about being left behind (unless of course you´re wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt and shorts with big Bill Clinton-like fat pallid legs, in which case the train won´t even stop at the station.)
· When you get in the car, sit down if you can, (remembering to offer your seat to anyone with children, the elderly, or someone who might need it more than you - like me...) Otherwise, if the train´s starting to get crowded, move into the aisles to free up some room by the doors for people to stand in. Then remember to hold on to something. Nothing puts off a Londoner like an American falling face-first into their seat. (I could make a bad joke about Hugh Grant, but I think I just did.)
When you´re riding on the train, take a second and notice that the only people talking on the train are the tourists, especially the loud, drunk German soccer team. The British don´t usually talk on the Tube. Has something to do with the weather I suspect. Feel free to talk all you want about your fine holiday vacation, but remember, we´re ALL listening, and will all talk about YOU as soon as you get off the train.
When you´re riding escalators in tube stations, stand single-file on the right-hand side. The left side is the ´passing lane´.
When you get ready to leave the station, have your ticket in your hand, ready to put in the machine. No sense in holding up the queue behind you while you´re trying to find the ticket in your pockets.
Finally, try not to leave small packages or shopping bags on the train when you leave. For some strange reason, the British are quite fussy about people doing this, and your package will quite literally be blown to smithereens. Serves you right though. Your nephew really didn´t want the Mighty Morphin Prince Charles action figure anyway. Really. Even if it was the one with the lifelike ´ears-of-death´.
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