London. The tube. Saturday afternoon. Not rush hour, but busy nonetheless. I was running late. Well...not necessarily. I reckoned that if I could quickly get through the barriers, run down the escalators, hop on a train that was just pulling into the station, run through the interchange station and get on the second train straightaway, then get off that train, walk up two sets of escalators and head straight out of the station, then I might only be five minutes late. Which is totally acceptable in my book. I just needed a clear route with nothing to slow me down.
But, this is London, awash with fucking foreigners. Having lived here for 12 years, I no longer consider myself to be a fucking foreigner – I am a native. And so I set off on my mission impossible.
Sidestepping the prams, I breezed through the ticket barriers and strode along the corridor to the escalators. This was going to be a breeze. I aimed for the left-hand side, planning to jog down the steps. Ten steps down there was a problem. It was a fucking foreigner and even worse, they had a suitcase. And worse again, they had placed it beside them. No, no, no, no, no, I said inwardly, recalling Ben Kingsley’s character in Sexy Beast. Best escalator/suitcase practice dictates that you should always place your suitcase on the step behind you and not on the step beside you. Now I was blocked in. I eventually got the woman to move her bag but I had now wasted valuable time.
I saw people swarming near the base of the up-escalator. Shit. The train was here. Maybe I could still make it. I ran down the remaining steps, projecting myself through the slow-moving arriving passengers and charged for the train. The doors beeped, then closed, and I was still on the platform.
Shit. Maybe they would open again. Sometimes that happens. I looked up and gazed into the carriage. And there he was. My evil ex. Our eyes met, his widening with recognition, mine narrowing with hatred.
The train pulled out of the station.
I had missed it.
But for once I didn’t care that I had to wait an additional six minutes for the next train.
I had been saved.
By a fucking foreigner.