mind the gap

Mind the Gap is so-named for the written and audio warnings in most London Tube stations, making passengers aware of the sometimes sizable gap between the ancient train platforms and the modern trains that rumble into the stations. During our only trip to London together, my family would jokingly imitate the awkward recorded station pronouncements as we squeezed into the trains. It was a behavior I saw mimicked by my American comrades when I was later a student in London, although by that time the phrase was more of an unspoken mantra for me, and my love for the London Undergound — it’s quirky carpeted seats and awe-inspiring web of lines and stations — was firmly established.
When I decided to take a photography class at a nearby arts college, it seemed like a no-brainer to focus my assignment — to photograph “emotions” — on transport passengers. I had only a plastic toy camera (mine was on still on its way), and I would pretend to fumble with it on trains and buses as I snapped pictures of unsuspecting Londoners. Among the subjects photographed: rowdy schoolgirls playing with a yo-yo; a man sleeping; a woman with spiked hair talking animatedly to a friend; two girls spying on me from the very front seat of the top level of a bus (my favorite spot). I got only a B in the class.
I thought of London and the Underground today: its black dust that lined my nose, the cranky bus drivers who had to make change from fare payments. I decided not to be sentimental or fearful as I came into work. Instead, I mind the gap.

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