How to curb commuter rage

Rush hour is not a good time to be mindful…


How to curb commuter rage

If you happen to be at Oxford Circus tube station at around 6.20pm on a week day, waiting for a northbound Victoria line train, and you spot a woman with too many bags, a red face, swearing under her breath and a faintly mad look in her eye, there's a very good chance it's me. Don't come and say hello. I might kick you in the shins.

I might leave work in a good mood, but by the time I've travelled two stops on the Central line I am indiscriminately furious with the heat, the delays, other people. My anger is not an attractive quality, but judging by the body language of the people I'm crammed up against, I'm not the only one at boiling point.

We are all in need of the joke free hugs advertised at Waterloo recently. So, it was interesting to see that Art on the Underground had commissioned artist Daria Martin to investigate the daydreams of Jubilee line passengers. She asked more than 800 people what they thought about while travelling, and asked them to fill in a questionnaire, to judge their level of absorption. (The participants had to say how much they agreed with statements such as 'beautiful language can move me to tears', or 'it is easy for me to imagine a sense of flying').

Martin has now created a series of posters that reveal some of the best answers to the daydream question. You can see a selection of them here. Martin asked travellers about their daydreams because she wanted to know what kind of 'psychological tricks' people used to distract themselves from 'the reality of being under the ground', as the TFL website euphemistically puts it. Unsurprisingly, lots of the daydreams are about escape.

But how lovely, I thought, to spend time on the Tube daydreaming, rather than fantasising about the revenge you will take on the 25-year-old man in a suit who just elbowed a pregnant woman out of the way for the last seat. Rush hour is definitely one time where being present and mindful is not very good for your wellbeing. From now on, I'll be spending a lot more time daydreaming on my way home.

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