It’s 08:54 on a damp and foggy morning on platform 1 of Sevenoaks rail station. There’s a soft, familiar voice over the intercom announcing:
“the 08:55 Southeastern service to London Cannon Street – calling at Orpington, London Bridge, and London Cannon Street”.
A thick tension in the air starts to build as business men and women alike inch closer to the yellow line, holding their ground.
Now, if it were the 08:08 train, there would be more reason for this silent battle – only a limited number of seats are left to rush to once the doors open; no one is prepared to spend the next 32 minutes of their morning standing silently in a swaying train car.
However, the beauty of the 08:55 train is that it’s late enough in the morning that there will most likely be a plethora of seats to choose from once the doors release the commuters upon the welcoming train coach.
Yet, there we stand at the yellow line, waiting anxiously, passively eyeing down the eager competition on either side as the train creeps up to the platform.
It’s stopped. Locate and rush to the nearest door. Hug tightly to one side as you let passengers out before sliding in sideways. Round the corner and look for a seat nonchalantly as possible. Sit in the seat and breathe once again, you’ve just successfully secured yourself 32 minutes of comfort.
It’s like an adult game of musical chairs.
At approximately 08:52 every morning I approach the platform silently reminding myself that there’s no need for the extra stress. Yet every time there’s a train on the horizon, I unknowingly engage in the commuters showdown once again.
Sometimes we just can’t escape a little bit of competition.