Adverse mental conditions

Every few minutes at Tottenham Court Road Tube station this evening came this announcement:

“Due to adverse weather conditions, customers are advised to take care on entering and leaving the station.”

I’ve had enough of this. It isn’t “adverse weather conditions”, it’s rain. Passengers have the wit to guess that they’re listening to advice without having to be told as much in the passive voice.  What is it about train staff that makes them want to talk like a PE teacher trying to read the instructions on a box of shuttlecocks? Does the RMT union hold courses in how to speak in stilted manner in the belief that using words like “beverage” lends authority, rather than the air of  an automated drinks machine at a swimming pool?

When train staff talk about a “range of teas and coffees” they must know that they merely mean tea or coffee, with or without milk and sugar. When they ask passengers to remember “personal belongings” do they think that there are impersonal ones? What would they be? Parking meters?

Do they think the public makes a distinction between a stop, a station and a station-stop? If so, are they surprised that we don’t try to get off when the train comes to a halt in the middle of the countryside or when it whizzes past minor stations?

There are two solutions to this. Either I lighten up, or Parliament passes legislation requiring announcers to obtain a licence, issued only after a course on how to avoid sounding like a policeman appealing for information at a press conference. I’m going with the second one.

4 Responses to “Adverse mental conditions”

  1. yarb Says:

    I’m with you. Those are awful whoppers. But redundant language is everywhere. For example yesterday at the airport: “this will serve as your final boarding call”. Why not just is? “This is your final call”. Did they really mean to say that it actually wasn’t my final boarding call, but was functionally equivalent to it?

  2. pouletnoir Says:

    Your final call is too precious to be announced by just anybody. Only the announcer’s team leader is permitted to use it.
    I write this from a First Great Western train, where I have been urged to “take some time to read the safety information cards, which are situated on the back of the seat in front of you.” The word situated puts me in a violent frame of mind.

  3. Michael S Says:

    The most annoying tube station announcement remains “… a good service is operating on all other lines”, on the grounds that it’s: a) always untrue; b) obviously nonsensical when following a list of closed lines, as the remaining lines will now clearly be overcrowded; c) pointless; d) smug; e) requires a redefinition of the word “good”.

    This is only slightly more annoying than the fact my tube station feels it needs to make platform announcements. “The northbound northern line service will leave from Platform 1” It’s a tube station for FFS – it’s ALWAYS going to be the northbound northern line service. They’re not suddenly going to go “Oh wait – Platform 1 is actually now the Eurostar to Bruges, and Platform 2 will be a Great Western service to Chippenham”. I pondered if they did it to help blind people, but as they can’t see which platform is Platform 1, and will have asked where to go for the northbound northern line in any case. Grrrrrr.

  4. pouletnoir Says:

    Maddening. What’s more, at your local station there are only two platforms, so it’s not like people are going to be confused. It’s also questionable why they try to describe, inaccurately, the shape of the station.

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