People who lean against the poles on tube trains

pole leaner I’m not a tall man. Those loops of plastic dangling from the tube train’s upper extremities are just about within reach, but the act of grasping one at full stretch is not a comfortable one; indeed it feels more like a yoga or Pilates manoeuvre rather than a casual attempt to maintain balance on a violently jerking vehicle. Those lofty bars are just within touching distance too, but I can only utilise them by wrapping my longest three fingers around them in the manner of an indignant sloth, and this tenuous grip on stability puts my fully extended joints under great stress and a not inconsiderable amount of discomfort. No, people like me – who are average height (for a woman) – rely upon those lovely vertical poles, often helpfully placed in a central location near the doors. We love those poles. We extend an arm at a natural latitude and grip on to that sturdy length of metal like the loyal lifeline it is. It cares not a jot how tall we are, and caters to even the shortest of arses. Often we form an unspeaking circle around it, avoiding eye-contact and shuffling around it as required at stops, like a shit maypole. Sometimes a polite exchange of grip locations will occur so that we are all holding on for dear life at a height comfortable for our particular statures, but all with the inherent knowledge that we shall never accidentally touch fingers. For that would be weird. I cannot overstate it enough – I love those poles. You know what I don’t love? When a human being decides to wrap their back fat around them. Fuck you, casually leaning guy. With your immense height advantage you could easily find sufficient reinforcement for your standing position from the various apparatus above you. But no, you’ve decided to selfishly envelop your entire body around the one thing local to my position that can offer me an alternative to being thrown around this carriage like a potato in a tumble dryer. That pole is a communal feature, my friend – there to be utilised by whoever requires its services. Yet there you are, claiming it as your own by defiantly nestling it between your shoulder blades and bum cheeks. Unless you’re about to dazzle us with an impromptu and highly unlikely pole dance, you have no reason to be monopolising its entire length. I reckon a good dozen people of varying heights could be organised around that thing right now, safe in the knowledge that if and when the train suddenly brakes or leaves the station with uncharacteristic velocity, our vertical orientation will be preserved. Instead, myself and several others are adopting a stance not unlike a novice on a surfboard, desperately trying to maintain our balance because you’ve felt like propping up your back!! Sod the fact that you’ve put the one thing within arm’s reach that can ensure I stay upright out of commission; you want both hands free so you can read the bloody newspaper! Don’t you, you heartless cretin? The worst offenders are the ones that do it WHILE YOU’RE HOLDING ONTO THE DAMN THING! With seemingly no qualms about trapping your fingers between a hard metal pole and their vertebrae, off they go: leaning and fiddling with their iPhone with casual abandon, not even shifting their selfish torsos when you attempt to bring attention to your predicament by extending a knuckle towards their spinal cord. We have much to fear from people like this. In the same way that a child who is cruel to animals will have a propensity for violence against people as they get older, anyone who thinks it’s “OK” to commandeer the central strut in a tube train with their entire body is obviously capable of something much worse. I will not be drawn into a debate as to what I mean by that, but let me put it this way: Hitler leaned on the Poles. And we all know where that led us.


  1. You’re back!!!! 😀 You just made my weekend!!!!! And I agree; people who take up the entire pole are super annoying, especially in my city when most of the poles are in front of the train doors. Not only are you stopping me from stablising myself on the train, but you’re also blocking my exit.

  2. Seems like flip-flops are taking over the world too.

  3. We feel the same way who abuse public transport, it really is infuriating! How about when people put there bags on empty seats?

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