Banking is a dirty word these days and Bankers have come in for a pasting. Bank Station, with it’s ongoing improvement work, huge levels of public investment and disgruntal travellers is not a bad metaphor for anyone mystified by Banking. It’s confusing.
It’s a constantly changing terrain down in Bank tube station, with it’s temporary signage that is like the small print in a loan agreement and just too tricky to read, it’s temporary structures, and all the twists and turns that only served to undermine my confidence in my own judgement because I ended up in Rotherhyde when I meant to go to Tooting.
Dave, at Clapham North, has a technique for stuffing me in to the front carriage of the northbound rush hour service so I’m in the right place when I get to Bank. At Bank it’s my fellow commuters I generally rely on. While the ones that tut and complain at my dithering presence assume a greater importance in my consciousness than they deserve, spare a thanks for the people who go out of their way.
The best of my fellow travellers ask if help is required rather than telling me that help will be provided. They meet me on equal terms and do not grab me or speak loudly and slowly. When I have my cane in my hand, which I don’t always do, they don’t point out the direction “over there” but explain. They offer up seats and I willingly accept to avoid having to fight not falling over on a moving train. They don’t plead for divine intercdence on my behalf and they don’t lose it if they realise that I can see to read my mobile phone. It’s the little things that go a long way to making life easier. Just when I was getting lulled into these little interactions as the norm, I got my comeuppance.
Having been wandering round Bank Station for about 20 minutes, a lovely man asked me if he could help. I was not swayed by his obvious charms but willingly accepted, and as we set out from the Central westbound platform for the second time that afternoon, in search of the Northern Line southbound, I surrendered to his judgement. We fell into conversation and I must say that I was fully engaged, although if you asked me now what he looked like or what we talked about, I would say that I have not got a clue.
When we arrived on the southbound platform of the Northern line, he said that this is where he would leave me and I was suitably grateful and tried not to flick back my hair while saying my goodbyes to our brief encounter. He left me and as the train approached I heard the announcement; “this was the westbound Central line service to West Riselip”. I set out to find the Northern line for the fourth time in an afternoon.