Just Another Day In The British Countryside

, , , , , | | Hopeless | June 8, 2019

(It’s a very, very quiet British Sunday. I am sitting at a train station, alone. No trains are due for a while and I am waiting for a connection. I can’t even hear traffic, it’s so quiet, and I can’t see any staff. Suddenly…)

Platform PA: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a station announcement. This is for the lady that just brought us the cake… Thank you very much; it was delicious.”

Making Hangry People Look Bad

, , , , | | Friendly | June 7, 2019

(I’m on my way home and just got off the train. I stop at a bench on the platform to take my headphones out of my backpack to listen to some music. When I turn around to leave, there’s a girl in her early twenties standing in front of me, looking a bit pale but otherwise fairly well off.)

Girl: *unintelligible due to the music*

Me: *taking off headphones* “Pardon?”

Girl: *smiling brightly, holding out her hand* “Hello, could you give me some money?”

Me: *smiling just as brightly* “Definitely not!”

(I then start walking towards the stairs. Apparently, that makes her snap.)

Girl: “Hellooooo? I’M HUNGRY!”

Me: *over the shoulder* “So am I.”

Girl: “I’m hungry and you’re not showing mercy! You owe me mercy! YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME MONEY! I’M HUNGRY SO YOU OWE ME MONEY! HEARTLESS CRUEL C***!”

(She then threw a handful of coins at me that she’d probably begged off other people. I was already about 20m away by that point, so none of them hit me, but they rained all over the platform and the tracks. Seems like she didn’t need them that urgently.)

He Has An Amazing Station In Life

, , , , , , | | Hopeless | May 29, 2019

I take the commuter rail to work every day. The station I get off at is extremely busy. It is right in the middle of a college campus — people actually walk through the station to get from one side of campus to the other — and has connections to about six different bus lines, a subway line, and shuttle buses to a local medical area. The neighborhood is okay, but not stellar, and lots of students walking through tends to mean a lot of dropped trash and such. The roof is leaky, and sometimes the doors don’t close all the way, so dirt, leaves, and rain get in.

However, this is the absolute cleanest station on the line because of one janitor. This man is a machine. He is constantly sweeping, mopping, cleaning handrails, and picking up trash. Even on the most crowded days, there is hardly anything on the floor. I’ve been seeing him every day, just quietly doing his job more thoroughly than the (higher paid) janitors at the college I work at.

One cold day, I decided that his guy needed some sort of recognition for his work. I got him a $40 card to the local coffee and donut shop and gave it to him, explaining how grateful I was for his efforts. He looked surprised, but then his face lit up with the biggest grin I had ever seen on him. I wave at him all the time now, and I’m glad he knows that at least one of the ten gazillion people rushing by notices his amazing work.

All Talk And No Talking

, , , , , | | Friendly | May 16, 2019

(My friend and I are waiting for a train, chatting with each other, when this heavily drunk man comes up and tries to talk with us. He absolutely reeks of alcohol, to the point where I feel nauseous, and he makes sounds several times as if he is about to throw up while he is leaning over us. We manage to scoot out of our seats and move down the platform, leaving him to flop down on the bench we just vacated. We get to another bench further down the track, settle down, and start chatting again, when there is a loud humph from the lady sitting on a bench behind us.)

Lady: *after we turn to look at her* “How rude are you, running away from that poor man? He obviously just wanted someone to talk to.”

Me: “Then why don’t you go talk to him?”

(She gaped like a fish for a few seconds as my friend and I just stared at her, before gathering her things, getting up, and walking off… in the opposite direction from where the man was.)

This Train Will Be Terminating At Your Hearts

, , , , | Hopeless | April 24, 2019

Mumbai, India has two major arteries for its public commutes: its railway lines. They’re overcrowded, overloaded, and held together by sheer force of will and prayer, but they still carry the city on their shoulders. An average intra-city train with a capacity of 1,900 passengers will, on a normal run, carry over 5,300 at a time. Trains are identified by the time they are scheduled to arrive at the station, and even if they’re running a few minutes late, they’ll run the exact same route every single day. Platforms at each station can range from 300 metres length at the shortest, to over half a kilometre long elsewhere. They’re connected using a warren of tunnels and overhead bridges, so it wouldn’t be out of order for commuters to walk over a kilometer or two to reach the exit gates.

I commute using one of these lines. This time, while I was waiting on the platform, an old, blind man, hard of hearing and holding a crutch, was asking if the 12:15 to [Terminus] had arrived. The train prior to that, the 12:04, hadn’t arrived yet, and the passengers around him were saying so. He probably wasn’t getting the answers he wanted, so he kept asking. I gently told him it was the 12:04 next, and I’d put him on the train.

He then asked if he could be helped to board the 12:15, since the 12:04 would mean a walk of over two kilometres from the platform it ended at to the main gates at [Terminus]. The 12:15 landed on the platform closest to the gates. I had time on my hands, so I agreed. The poor guy was so overwhelmed that he held on to me for the ten minutes or so it took for the train to arrive. “My keeper is with me; I have no worries,” he kept chanting. I gave my bags to him to hold, as an assurance that I wasn’t going anywhere until he was on the train.

The 12:15 arrived and I helped him to the doors of the train. People on the train immediately held on to him, pulled him up, and held on behind him so that he wouldn’t fall. A few people immediately emptied their seats for him and he sat down on a corner, trying to occupy the least amount of space. I moved on, finding luggage space for my bags and then a seat for myself, so I lost track of what happened to him after.

When I was alighting at my stop, two halts before [Terminus], I caught sight of him once again. He was asking around if someone would help him alight at [Terminus]. A group of teenagers, heading home from school, told him they would do that. He was still worried and kept repeating his request to the compartment. So, they just created space in the middle of their own seats and got him to sit there safely, telling him, “Uncle, we’re all alighting at [Terminus] only. We’ll make sure you, too, reach it comfortably.”

I alighted at my destination with a smile, realising one thing: Mumbai’s regular commuters never lack empathy. They will give answers to everything you ask, even delaying their own journey if someone is in need. They’ll look out for everyone with more difficulties than them. No matter how uncomfortable the journey, if you’re less able than the rest, we’ll make sure it’s comfortable for you at least.

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