Cornered. That was the only word for it. There was no room to move, no escape. Pressed up hard against the door, there was nothing to do but think of other words to describe the stifling circumstance. Trapped. Stuck. Surrounded. Hemmed in. Cut off. Imprisoned.
Okay, imprisoned is stretching it a bit. Still, there would be no way out, not for many suffocating seconds, not until the elevator had taken us all the way from the train platform to the concourse.
Also jammed into the space was: a food delivery bike with rider; two teens on giant skateboards; a mother with an extra-large pram laden with shopping bags (and a child); and an oversized e-scooter with its helmeted driver.
Once the elevator doors opened it was imperative to leap out as quickly as possible to avoid being crushed as the other occupants wheeled out, looking a lot like that old circus trick where a troupe of clowns climbs out of a tiny car. How did we all fit in there?
If only it was a one-off. Unfortunately, it was emblematic of the increasingly congested world in which we now live.
Being a pedestrian has become a perilous endeavour. The law of the urban jungle is as simple as it is brutal: if you’re on your feet you’re on your own.
Once a foot-powered person could walk about freely and without fear of imminent death. Today we are forced to deal with a host of dangers that can transform a simple trip to the shops into an SAS obstacle course.
Take prams. There have always been prams around, only the unobtrusive single-seater carriages of yore are nothing compared to the double-wide leviathans that threaten us each day.
So formidable in their heft as they approach – often side-by-side in standard attack formation – you’ve no choice but to dive into the nearest available doorway to avoid being flattened. The only thing missing from these baby-carrying behemoths is a gun turret.
Another scourge of the sidewalk – and it’s got to be said, political correctness be damned – is the dreaded mobility scooter.
Don’t take offense. Please. We’re not talking here about the 99% of mobility scooter drivers who conduct themselves within the recognizable bounds of civilized behaviour. God bless them.
The sods we speak of are those who, upon taking charge of their electric-powered steeds, suddenly think they’re Vin Diesel.
They presume the right of way wherever they roll, especially when charging in and out of elevators or speeding across the open concourse of a shopping centre. Look out for them in the next Fast & Furious movie.
And, why have we built all these very expensive skate parks? Wasn’t the deal that if we gave skateboarders a place of their own to do their thing they’d stay out of our way?
Yet there they are, breezing down the middle of the road, no lights, no helmets, flouting every imaginable traffic law as they jump from road to footpath and back again, frightening the life out of innocent pedestrians. No wonder we take such joy in watching YouTube videos of stunt-loving skateboarders pulverizing their privates while attempting to surf a handrail. That’ll teach them.
Then we have the advent of all these e-bikes and e-scooters that anyone can use by unlocking them through an app and merrily riding off. Everybody hates these things, and with good reason.
Intended as a convenient means of short-distance travel, mainly for tourists, these flouro-coloured monstrosities are hell on wheels as they whizz by, missing civilians by a matter of millimeters as they race towards the sound barrier and, hopefully, a wall.
Worst of all though, by a cosmic stretch, are electric bikes. You know the ones. These two-wheeled terrors have become the transport mode of choice for the thousands of food delivery drivers who criss-cross our suburbs each night, delivering hot food to lazy people.
When they stick to the road, no problem. But it’s another horror story when they mount the curb to use the footpath as a speedway.
They are a blight to behold – especially on trains where the operators of these contraptions now consider the areas designed for people with special needs as handy parking spots just for them.
If, perchance, you happen to be a person with special needs who boards a train only to find a convoy of food delivery bikes using the spaces that are meant for you, don’t sweat it.
Rest assured that the comfortably seated drivers will treat you with exactly the same contempt as they treat everybody else and refuse to acknowledge you exist.
Also, take comfort in the fact that there is a special place in the Afterlife reserved just for them where they shall spend Eternity sharing a crammed elevator with a delivery food bike, an over-sized pram, two skateboarders, and an idiot on an e-scooter.