London’s commuter network is a brutal rat race, and travellers have to join gangs in order to survive. Until now there has been an uneasy peace between gangs such as the strap hangers, entrance huggers and departure board gawpers.
Each has traditionally occupied its own space and the gangs have kept themselves to themselves.
But the emergence of new gangs has created tension as they compete for the same platforms and concourses.
Two notorious groups, the Suitcase Draggers and the Mobile Phone Dawdlers, are competing for turf in the same hunting grounds – tube platforms and entries. Suitcase draggers are becoming lethal. With split second timing, they cross the path of a fellow commuter, who hurries past them. But little do they know that lurking half a yard behind them – all but invisible in a tightly packed space – is a deadly cargo box containing a shiny suit and a pack of sandwiches. Before they know what’s happened to them, the commuter will have crashed into the stealth-tripping suitcase, which inevitably sends them into a spin and hurtling to the floor.
As the wounded commuter writhes on the ground, his dignity oozing out of him, the suitcase dragger moves away, looking for his next victim.
But they haven’t got the hunting grounds all to themselves. Two other gangs with similar modi operandi have moved into the suitcase draggers’ turf. The Starbucks Spiller gang also carries a deadly cargo and is always looking for unsuspecting people to crash into. They operate by buying vast cardboard cups of hot beverage which they seem compelled to carry around with them, for no apparent reason.
Their motive soon becomes apparent. The huge vat of seemingly unnecessary refreshment, which is best enjoyed at leisure while seated at a table, doubles up as an offensive weapon, ruining any suit or shirt it comes into contact with. The moisture can permeate all material and rapidly run down a victim’s body, collecting in their underpants. Scientists say it’s the most deadly dignity stripping technique yet unleashed on other commuters.
As commuters have become wary of Suitcase Draggers and Starbucks Spillers, competition for potential victims has become intense and a bitter rivalry has developed between the two with skirmishes breaking out, and many suitcases being simply ruined by coffee stains.
Meanwhile, a third group, the Mobile Phone wanderers, is waiting in the wings. Their MO is rather simpler. They wander around in slow motion, adopting unpredictable movement patterns so no-one can easily overtake them. Their sting is less deadly, but their sheer numbers mean their aggregated effect chips away at the very soul of other passengers. After a year-long study, one psychologist described the effect of mobile zombies as “fucking annoying”.
‘We can never eliminate the gangs,’ admitted transport for London spokesman Dave Hill. ‘The best we can do is try to reduce annoyance to a manageable level, but a turf war is still preferable to the more chilling alternative. If the suitcase draggers got together with the coffee sloppers and the mobile pests, then God help us all, it would be absolute carnage.’