It was a Monday evening and London’s Euston station was as crowded as it always is. People from all corners of the country were rushing to-and-fro or standing glumly staring at the train times or their phone. Suddenly a group of tanned girls appeared up the escalators from the Tube. They dragged several huge wheelie cases behind them.
Seeing their train was due, the girls paid little attention to the bags they dragged behind them at arm’s length, tearing like bladed chariots through the crowd towards their platform. A chaotic scene of squashed toes and bruised shins unfolded. Curses rang out everywhere. One man, unfortunate enough to be walking looking at his phone, almost tripped over but just managed with Spiderman-like reflexes to regain his balance.
The girls made it through the throng. But all this begs the question – why do so many people pay absolutely no attention to what suitcases might collide with? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen galumphing tourists almost upend buggies or older people.
During your average commute in London, unspoken rules govern peoples’ movement, and most of the time it works incredibly well. Most people have decent spatial awareness – a bit like driverless cars, we are programmed not to bump into each other. Although tempers might get a bit frayed, the movements of the commuter herd are on the whole fluid and unbroken. But introduce wheelie luggage into the scenario and we’re like cats without their whiskers, bumping and tripping over these low-level battering rams.
It’s not just in London, of course. Every single person at every single station and airport in the world seems to drag one of these confounded cases behind them. Now, of course, there’s a time and a place – you can’t exactly slate older or disabled people for using one. But why can’t the rest of us just pack fewer things and pick up our bags? What ever happened to the romantic idea of travelling light? Unless you’re moving house, setting up a library or fleeing as a refugee you simply don’t need to take umpteen kilograms along for a ride.
The simple truth is that just because an innovation makes something easier, it doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. Maybe some bright spark will invent cases with hazard lights or recorded messages politely warning people to move out the way. But until then, a pox on these accursed things.