The greatest thing about being a kiwi in London is that by being an outsider it's easy to get away with not conforming to unspoken social rules. And by a kiwi, I don't mean a little brown bird, although they would have even more of an excuse to not comply. Or a kiwifruit, which is often mistakenly referred to as a kiwi, as their chance of understanding any kind of social structure would be extremely slim indeed.
Anyway, I was walking along the other day with my pet kiwi, carrying a kiwifruit, and my kiwi said to me that she fancied some McDonalds. And would I ever argue with anyone or anything suggesting McDonalds? I think not. So we were approaching McDonalds and I saw that there was a line out the door. In this situation I'd ordinarily just walk on rather than waiting in line, but my kiwi looked at me with those big blue kiwi eyes and I couldn't refuse.
Upon closer investigation I noticed that in McDonalds there were eight different counters, each with someone serving from them. However, the configuration of how the Londonish people had decided to queue was in one long queue rather than the more sensible one queue per counter configuration. What is this madness? With a moment of thought I gathered that it must be something to do with fairness in that the people should be treated equally and each be served according to their punctuality in getting to the McDonalds store the earliest. But that's hardly exciting is it? Surely in the one queue per counter configuration there would be more of an element of excitement? "Am I in the quickest queue?", "Did I make the right decision?" Then again maybe that would be too much to add this conundrum to the everyday anxiety of the Londonish folk.
But you know what? I live life to the fullest so decided that I would be the catalyst for change in this situation. I strolled in and walked straight up to one of the counters which didn't have someone lining up at it. The looks on the faces of the folk in the long line were a mix between shock and awe, shock because someone had done something so utterly unacceptable, but also awe of the braveness of going against the grain and creating a more optimum queueing configuration. Slowly, as my bravado rubbed off on them, the others in the queue decided to follow suit and the next thing I knew there were eight lines, one in front of each counter.
As I walked out, each and every person in McDonalds gave me a look of respect. One of them gave me a high five, but I refused it because that's way too American and I didn't want to get lynched by the folk who I'd just a moment ago impressed so deeply. My kiwi and my kiwifruit were both so impressed by the situation that they both shared their chips with me which encouraged this kind of behaviour and lead to more stories just like this which I will share in the coming weeks.
A month ago I decided that it was time for some new unspoken social norms for travelling on the train, so I wrote them up, and sent them to the Queen for approval with a note saying "Dear Mrs Queen, please get back to me if you don't agree with these unspoken train rules, but if you have no problem with them just ignore this letter." Anyway, it's a month later now and no letter from the Queen so it's time for me to let you all know these new rules that have now been accepted and are officially part of the unspoken train rule lore.
Rule 1 - If you're getting off the train and there are loads of people getting on, and they don't make room for you to walk through, it is now okay for you to barge your way through. And you're allowed to enjoy it.
Rule 2 - If someone is talking too loud on the phone in the train, someone in the carriage is obliged to pretend to be the person on the other side of the conversation and loudly respond appropriately (or inappropriately).
Rule 3 - If you're on a train and an elderly person boards, you don't have to pay attention to a sign that tells you to give up your seat but you are obliged to actually happily give up the seat out of the goodness of your heart. Because elderly people are brilliant and shouldn't need a sign in order to prompt you to be nice to them.
Rule 4 - If you are approaching an iPhone ditherer, you know the kind of people who are walking along while using their iPhone and therefore not walking in a straight line and dithering from left to right, you are no longer obliged to politely dodge around them and if they walk into you then it's their fault.
Rule 5 - If someone with a disability enters the train carriage and starts talking or making noises that make you feel uncomfortable, and you then stand up and leave the carriage, then you should not be allowed to use the trains because you are a terrible person.
So there you go, those are the rules, share it around and let everyone know.
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