Central Tunnel: A User’s Guide
Art by Mia Tran
Central Tunnel: the cruel mistress that is the lifeline of Central station. For anyone who has the pleasure of walking through the muggy air of the tunnel, I have but one bit of advice about your walking pace: Knees to chest, people! If you haven’t worked up a sweat by the time you’ve hit Lord of the Fries, you’re not doing it right.
As someone who frequents the tunnel, I’ve come up with some tips to help your travel be as smooth as a freshly shaved leg.
Position — The key to a successful run is in the way you plan your positioning. Do not underestimate the power of the position. While clinging to the wall Spider-Man-style may seem like a good idea to begin with, you will eventually hit:
1. Someone stopping to tie their shoelace.
2. A company giving out flyers; and/or
3. The musical duo who busk every morning (and the lady who plays a tambourine strapped to her foot).
In order to avoid the above, give the wall a wide berth. Find the happy medium of people walking with you and against you. Once your position is set, the real technique begins.
It’s a trap! — Position means nothing if you get stuck behind a pack of slow walkers. Avoid the following:
1. Anyone who stops to look at the time boards outside the ticket gates. They’re obviously new to Central, and do not know the inner workings of the tunnel.
2. Families on a day trip to the big city. They will walk slowly, a child’s shoelace will untie, and they will spend time fumbling to put their Opal cards into their bum bags.
3. Phone walkers; those who have the uncontrollable need to constantly look at their phones. Yes, even while attempting to navigate the intricate maze that is Central Tunnel.
Picking your team — There’s no ‘I’ in team. There’s also no ‘I’ in Central Tunnel. Picking the perfect team to help you on your journey can mean the difference between making your exam or not.
Two words: active wear. Not my personal fashion choice, but my choice as a team leader. Speedy, determined, fit.
Shoes: those fancy business ladies who hold their heels and wear runners. They’ve got things to do and places to be. Follow their path.
Wheels: bikes, scooters, skateboards. All obstacles for people in front of the vehicle but when you’re cruising in their wake, it’s a streamline trip.
Once you’ve picked out your fast-walking, fast-thinking team, you can put some choreographed moves to practice.
Triangular formation — Like an arrow slicing through the air, your team will slice through the masses of people. Keep in formation. If you fall behind, you get left behind.
The tag–along — Find someone who is speedy and follow their every move. If they slip in between someone you, too, slip in. This means you must walk extremely close to your selected person. Balance is key; it will all go to crap if you step on the back of their shoe.
Dodge — If you travel through the tunnel you will encounter the infamous flyer handouts. Your best bet is to dodge your opponent. Approach, then at the last second, side step, spin around, and continue on your journey as planned. Simple, but effective.
Fluids — You need to get into the mentality of water. Play waterfall soundtracks on your iPod if you need to. Just like water, you need to be able to flood into the tiniest of gaps. Find the gap. Fill the gap. Be the gap.
iPod — motivation for when your legs are burning and your heart is pounding.
Shoes — preparation starts from the ground up. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Even if they don’t go with your outfit, you’ll be walking so fast no one will see.
A random flyer — flash this at the person trying to give you flyers and exclaim, “Already got one!”
Sunglasses — although there is technically no sunlight in the dark hole that is the tunnel, sunglasses help you avoid eye contact, making your journey all that more smooth.
To my slow-footed friends I leave you with this; keep left unless overtaking. And to those unknown heroes, those who dare to travel further, faster, and smarter; when travelling through Central Tunnel there’s nothing you can’t do while listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’.