I don’t know why this irritates me as much as it does, but it does. I was heading out through the gates at Vauxhall this afternoon, rejoicing in the fact that I was heading home while it was still daylight. The next thing I know, as I put my oyster on the reader, is that there’s someone behind me – right up close behind me – slipstreaming through on my ticket and out the gates and out the station before anyone can stop him. I looked at him as he hurried past me with his look of studied innocence, and I really wanted to say something or do something, to wipe it off his face.

But why does it bother me so much? It’s no skin off my nose – or no more than any other fare-dodger. The ticket guy at Vauxhall doesn’t seem to care either way. And were I to try and stop them – blocking the gate, or slowing down or drawing attention to their blatant acts – would I not just be grassing up my fellow commuters to the train companies, collaborating with The Man? But it feels so personal that they use me, my ticket, to get their free ride, when I’m shelling out fifteen quid a week for the privilege.

You, o readership, seem a forthright bunch. What do you do about tailgaters, and how would you try to stop them? Bearing in mind, when framing your answers, that this guy was six foot five and big with it, whereas I’m a mere slip of a girl at five foot six on a good day with a following wind.


23 responses to “Tailgated

  1. It’s never happened to me, I must confess. I suppose all you could really have done in that situation was report him to a member of LU staff. I’m trying to think of a more entertaining and less prissy answer, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment – dearie me, I think I’m getting old.

  2. I’d live with it. It’s not worth the aggro and TfL don’t pay you to enforce their fares. Every system has its cheats: they’re just part of the system. I sympathise with your umbrage, though.

  3. Katja – I must look particularly dim then, because it seems to happen to me all the time. Grrr

    Menace – you’re probably right, but there must be some way of making them look like a prat or something

  4. You could always sneakily trip them over as they push past you on the far side of the gate …

  5. Station staff normally wont deal with these people as they are likely to get stabbed or assualted. If they doing the same thing reguarly, revenue staff will most likely be informed and they can gater evidence to pass to the police or have one of those “Multi-Agency” ticket checks, with the police drugs dogs, Immigration and the DWP

  6. I like the tripping suggestion best.

    But what about just making a quick verbal report to the nearest staff available and suggesting they check the camera and keep an eye out for that guy in the future? Although if it happens to you often, the station staff may start looking at you kind of funny. Maybe you could take to carrying a long, sharp pointy object under your arm and sticking far enough out behind you to keep people from getting too close?

  7. hmm – never thought about the stabbing/assault aspect of it. It’s a scary old world we live in these days.

    Sounds like an umbrella under my arm is the answer. Perhaps a poisoned one … bit tricky on the bike, of course

  8. You mean a Bulgarian umbrella. Perhaps that’s what happened to Georgi Markov – he was a fare-dodger who ran into a disgruntled commuter.

  9. Indeed. Although I think concocting my own ricin for use on the trains would be frowned on these days. Probably shouldn’t even mention it on the inter…

  10. Believe it or not, I’ve had this done to me, when I’ve been in uniform. When I find this happening, I simply stop in the gate lie, just as the gates close.

    We do what we can as staff, like TubePerson says, it’s just risky to do to much – and as for the Revenue…

  11. I’m all for reporting it/preventing it, although I am a big fella and up for a bit of aggro. Gits like that who don’t pay are the reason the rest of us pay so much. If everyone that used the system paid their fares everyone couold pay a bit less…. in theory!

  12. I don’t use the tube much, but can’t you just pause after the gates and stop him getting through? or does it all happen too quickly to prevent it? In that case, tripping him up or walking behind him, catching the backs of his shoes – passive aggressive warfare.

  13. hmmm… I am all for creative approaches. A long stick or umbrella under your arm works. Or how about a douse of Aquanet hairspray over your shoulder just as you got through (ok, so I know you don’t wear hairspray, but it might be fun! The plan is to miss your head anyway).

    You mentioned your bike… are you going through the swing gate? Or carrying the bike through the normal gates? The normal gates, I think the solution is to do a special entertainment like: “Beep” the Oyster Card, then go “HOO!” and spin (ala Michael Jackson), then sidle through the gates just as they are about to close. Then no one could possibly get mad if you hold them as they will be too surprised and amused.

  14. I wondered if this entry might bring out the London Underground staff in force! the ticket guy at Vauxhall (station not underground) is even shorter than I am, so I suppose I can’t blame him for turning the other cheek.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m boiling up caster beans and preparing the special umbrella as we speak…

  15. if you could become a bit fatter, they wouldn’t find it so easy. have a pork pie.

  16. Ah don’t tempt me with pork pies…

  17. The only time someone has done this to me, I stopped dead and pretended to have a faff with my card before darting through and leaving the thieving little sod stranded at the gate, unable to proceed. I looked back and laughed!

  18. I’ve not had this happen to me since I moved and stopped using Woolwhich Arsenal station but I did get to be quite good at spotting the little oiks who were about to tailgate me. I generally just slowed down and sauntered though the gate (normally I barrel through at about Mach 6). Didn’t do much though, they would just vault the gate and keep going. Personally I’m all for having then shot, but others seem to think my views are a little extreme.

    Much more fun is when the drug squad and their dogs are there, watching them panic about slightly more than not having a ticket almost made the commute worthwhile

  19. I hate it and I slow down to stop it happening. For some reason I find petty dishonesty almost more unforgiveable than a bank job. I suppose I feel that if you are going to be a criminal you shouldn’t be selling your soul for a single tube fare.

  20. Mark, Moobs & Model commuter – you’re all clearly a bit more on the ball than me – I really should try and figure out it’s happening earlier so I can block the gate, rather than rely on a Paddington Hard Stare once they’ve already gone through. But I’m proud of my speedy gate technique – slowing down just goes against the grain…

  21. I’d have thought the following wind would see them off.

  22. My timing’s not normally that good!

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