So for those of you who don’t live or work in London or England for that fact, it might come as a surprise to you that drinking has been banned on all forms of public transport. To include but not limited to, tube, buses, Docklands Light Rail, and trams. I have yet to find a tram in London but it is always listed so I hold out hope that one day I may stumble across one. For me this is no big deal as I can never think of a time that I have carried an alcoholic beverage onto public transport. For some people it was a very big deal and to mark the end of an era they decided to have a great big party on one of the Circle Line trains. While it has always been a dream of mine to get drunk with a bunch of strangers on a train the is going around and around Zone 1 unfortunately I was otherwise engaged that evening with a DVD and a kitty. Needless to say this caused mayhem. For those of you who care to find out about this lovely night of debauchery here is a link.
So today over a full week after this ban has taken place I am on the 9:08 #23 bus going towards Covent Garden when at Ludgate Circus one of those lovely characters we all love seeing gets on. Smells of stale booze and body odour, looks like he has not changed his clothes for 6 months, and is carrying a conversation with himself and any other poor sod he can draw into it. Due to lack of seating or my incredible weirdo magnet he chooses to sit right in front of me. I think nothing of it and try to ignore the horrible stench when a few stops later he pulls out a dirty beer glass and begins to clean it with a soiled handkerchief. This does not look good and my suspicions are confirmed when he pulls out a can of Strongbow (hard cider for those who may not know) empties the can into the glass and carelessly throws the can over his shoulder in my direction. Until this moment it really did not bother me one way or the other whether you could drink on public transport as I had the luck of never really to be bothered by it with the exception of the raucous football fans on the way too or home from a match and really they are just loud not particularly dangerous. At 9:23 on the #23 this morning that all changed.
As I sat there fuming about flying cans I realized all the papers and news stories were correct, really how was public transport staff going to impose this ban. The driver did not have clear view of this, and I use the term loosely, gentleman so I just figured it was another useless law. To my surprise however a few stops later a ticket inspector got on the bus and my heart raced with the anticipation of the can throwing drunkard being brought to justice (or at least asked to empty his drink at the next stop). I was surprised as the ticket instructor approached the gentleman in front of me he made no attempt to hide his unlawful activity. When he got up to us and asked for tickets I being completely sober and aware of what was going in on had pulled mine out already but my inebriated companion was not as aware and had to rifle through his pockets to find his ticket. While this was happening, the ticket inspector ask him what he had in his glass. Medicine he replied. Yes! I could feel it now justice would be served. Then in a moment of anticlimax the ticket inspector replied don’t spill it. Don’t spill it! That’s all! That’s it! Don’t spill it!
As I sat in my seat like a sour old lady I realized that I was not really upset that the man had been drinking or that he had haphazardly thrown his can in my direction. I was angry that faced with the situation the ticket inspector did not caution, ask him to pour it out at the next stop, or tell him that in the future he would not be able to consume beverages of an alcoholic nature on any form of public transport. I realized that it was my Kantian views of life kicking in. I try my utmost to follow the law as much as possible and do not knowingly break them even when they seem stupid or irritating and here was someone knowingly breaking them and nothing had happened. I know that drinking alcohol on public transport is nothing compared to murder or child abuse but it is against the law none the less. So if you reading this and you drink on public transport can you please be kind enough to not throw your empty cans over your shoulder in the direction of the young lady sitting behind you.