Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mind the Gap

Subway trains scare me.  But mostly only when I’m towing two children under 10 and six pieces of luggage.  Subways don’t wait for passengers to safely disembark, like railroad trains do.  Before you can even count your bags that buzzer shrieks and the doors start closing like some kind of steely prison cell door in an Alcatraz film.  Sure, my husband’s always with me and the kids and the luggage on the subway rides.  But he’s already dripping sweat two stops before our destination station trying to inch our bags closer and closer to the doors through a thick tangle of legs, and then cursing the train operator under his breath for opening the doors opposite the ones he expected.  At that point I’m in utter complete fight or flight mode grabbing children by the hair and kicking luggage out the door before that dang shrrrriekk . . . slam!  Then we always do a headcount and a luggage count and let out a deep breath.

Once when my 6 year old son fell asleep on the underground ride from Heathrow to our hotel, we knew he hadn’t slept a wink on the airplane and was out cold.  And dead weight.  We shook him and prodded him and eventually just tossed him out the door, I think, to manage that exit from the tube.

Now that they’re older, we have a rule:  if you get off the train and mom and dad aren’t there, stay where you are.  We’ll come back for you.  If you find yourselves on a train and mom and dad got off, get off at the next station and we’ll retrieve you there.  Fortunately we’ve never had to test that rule.

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