We all know Brits are awkward enough as it is anyway. We’re a rare species that just can’t deal with any situation that could potentially result in human interaction. In that sense, London – with its increasing population, busy streets and crowded Tube carriages – is essentially a mine-field of awkward experiences just waiting to happen. Tread carefully people, tread very carefully.
1. Trying to politely reject/dodge around cheery charity collectors who are essentially just trying to make the world a better place.
Common avoidance tactics are: “I’m on my lunch break” whilst gesturing furiously to your Pret sandwich; “Sorrrryyyyyyyyyyy” whilst pulling awkward grin and accelerating at startling pace or the straight-up ignore. All leave you feeling awkward and a tiny bit ashamed.
2. When the Tube carriage suddenly empties and you’re left sitting right next to someone.
I want to move. You want to move. But we don’t. We just pretend this isn’t happening.
3. The constant paranoia about whether giving up your seat on the bus will be an insult.
Did he just go grey premature? Is she pregnant? OH MY GOD SHE’S NOT PREGNANT.
4. The passive aggressive run-walk to the last free table in the beer garden.
The corners of your lips are sweetly upturned but the steely determination in your eyes says it all. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.
5. The moment when someone else beats you to the last free table in the beer garden.
And then you just have to turn around and pretend like you totally didn’t just over-exceed your physical capacities and strain every muscle in your body trying to beat them.
6. Trying to pass someone walking really slowly on a narrow street.
I really need to…can I just…um…excuse me…nope.
7. Seeing someone you recognise from work on the same carriage as you.
Luckily most humans (except maybe Americans) realise that the journey to work should be experienced in sacred isolation. Note that at one point, however, one of you will have to make the conscious decision to lag behind when you get to Bank, thus avoiding the excruciating, ‘oh you were on that Tube too?!’ debacle.
8. Seeing someone you recognise from work. Full stop.
It’s like bumping into a teacher on a Sunday. That shit should be illegal.
9. RSVPing to an evening activity that involves going to Zone 3 or beyond.
What’s it going to be this time?
10. Passive aggressive Tube announcements.
Even if you weren’t leaning on the sides of the door you still hang your head in shame.
11. When you’re holding on to the hand rail and someone touches it.
Immediate reaction is to violently fling your hand away. But that would be more awkward. So you both linger until someone finally slopes off sheepishly.
12. Waiting for/standing in the lifts at Covent Garden.
This will all be over in 2 minutes. This will all be over in 2 minutes.
13. The “seek assistance” message coming up when you try and tap in with your Oyster.
And there’s probably a queue of 5 people behind you. Everything inside you wants to scream, “I KNOW, I KNOW, I HATE THIS MOMENT TOO, I AM A TRUE LONDONER I PROMISE, I JUST FORGOT TO TOP-UP THIS ONE TIME”. Hang your head in shame and turn around.
14. Leaving a night out before 11pm.
Yes, I am fully aware that the last Tube isn’t until 12.33 but there are box-sets to be watched and sofas to be lived on.
15. When you know you were first in line but someone gets served before you at the bar.
Either I’m going to say something or say it in my head. (I’ll say it in my head).
16. Having someone fall asleep on your shoulder.
The ultimate. Just pray they don’t wake up and two of you have to suffer the consequences.