Beyond the Bubble: Don't Be That Person

By May Mansour, The Dartmouth Staff | 11/11/15 7:04am

This a story about my first and last visit to the London Eye. I'm warning you now: it's going to be uncomfortable. I want you to feel as uncomfortable reading this post as I felt while locked in a capsule 400 feet above the ground with an elderly woman strapped to my right arm.
After an incredibly exhausting week of midterm exams, course election and a stomach bug that had my face stuck in the toilet bowl for more hours than I care to cover, I decided to treat myself to a weekend trip to London. I had absolutely zero plans, zero friends and zero white blood cells, so as soon as I reached my hotel in South Kensington, I found a map and went to work planning my next few days. I naively googled "Places to see in London," and was immediately inundated with pictures of Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and the British Museum (I was alsogracedwith pictures of a balding middle-aged man posing provocatively in aleather Union Jack bikini).

I quickly figured out what I wanted to see: mass at Saint Paul's Cathedral, the Peter Paul Rubens collection at the National Gallery and the armory at the Tower of London. Even though these are all pretty major tourist attractions, I still had an even more touristy list tucked aside of what I "absolutely had to do," and on that list was riding the London Eye.

Unsurprisingly, I've always been weary of tourist traps in large cities. I don't know what strange European cosmic power is at work here, but I have the absolute worst luck visiting tourist attractions. Here's the woe-is-me list I've compiled so far:

#1 The Eiffel Tower: An illegal vendor fleeing from the cops ran through me. I landed on the ground with a small Eiffel Tower trinket down my shirt.

#2 Disneyland Paris: I was pooped on multiple times by multiple birds.

#3 Parc Guëll: I was pickpocketed for the first time ever, by a man-child.

#4 Saint Paul's Churchyard: A suspicious dog very loudly and vigorously humped my leg.

And last but not least, #5: The time I was trapped for the longest hour of my life on the London Eye.

Against my better judgment, I decided to take a ride on the London Eye during my last night in the city. Bright-eyed and brimming with youthful ignorance, I got off at Westminster station and made my way across the bridge. By making my way across the bridge, I mean elbowing through hordes of tourists striking poses in front of Big Ben and being stopped about 12 times along the way to take pictures of Scottish honeymooners. By the time I arrived at the London Eye, bought an overpriced ticket and queued up behind the most aggressively publicly intimate couple in Europe, I was finally herded into a capsule like the sheep that I am.

And then the fun began. The ride was only supposed to last about 30 minutes, but just my luck, my group was stuck 400 feet in the air for an extra hour. What's more, someone apparently forgot to notify the elderly woman in my capsule that we were on a Ferris wheel because when the capsule finally started moving again, she went absolutely bananas. She latched onto my body for the remainder of the ride, intermittently crying out, "whoo, whoo, whoo." I promise these were not happy whoos.

The best part of all was her twenty-something son, standing in the corner taking panos and peace-signed selfies while his fear-stricken mother gnawed her nails into my right shoulder.

The first couple (seated next to the second couple practically having sex in the capsule) didn't get the memo and continued shouting aloud, "Hey, what if this capsule just fell right now?" This sent the poor woman into a panic. More whooing ensued.

To make a sad story short, I went on the London Eye and all I got was the fear that an old woman was going to die in my embrace, a bruise on my arm the size of Texas, a real life softcore porno and the foggiest view of the few existing skyscrapers ruining the London skyline.

Moral of the story: Don't be that person. Don't be the 70-year-old woman with heart problems that knowingly gets on Europe's tallest Ferris wheel. Don't be the twenty-something son who cares more about his Facebook profile picture than his mother's existence. Don't be the shameless couple that turns one of the world's most visited landmarks into their honeymoon suite. And most importantly, don't be the idiot American that spends their last night in London riding the London Eye.

May Mansour, The Dartmouth Staff