Too much information

I remember a time when almost anything that caused a disruption to the London Underground system was euphemistically referred to as “an incident”. The tragic events of July 7th 2005 have given rise to the fear that “an incident” might be misinterpreted as “a bomb”, and lead to mass panic across the underground system.

Or at least that’s what I assume must have gone through the minds of the people in charge of the Underground system. A couple of weeks ago I was in London when a delay on one of the lines was proudly hailed from the tannoys as being due to “a customer incident”. A customer incident? What’s that? What sort of “customer incident” would result in a delay on one of the underground lines? I’m sure several people must have thought the worst – that some poor soul had ended up on the line.

I can report now, however, that “a customer incident” does not mean that at all. How do I know? Well, I was in London again yesterday, when the tannoys and notice boards were all proudly proclaiming that part of the Piccadilly line was closed due to “a person under a train”.

I really didn’t want to know that. It’s not an image that I particularly want to consider during an otherwise pleasant day out, and I’m sure many other people feel the same way. Please, London Underground, try to find a new euphemism for “a non-terrorist-related incident” which doesn’t result in people either panicking about bomb scares or contemplating what terrible series of events has led to someone ending up under a train.