My whole day today has been consumed with trains. I have been on trains, waiting for trains, running for trains and thinking about trains. I’ve talked to people on trains, eaten on trains, people watched on trains, eavesdropped on trains and have been a passenger on a grand total of 6 trains.
I had a client meeting in Surrey so I got the tube to Paddington. At Warwick Avenue a very heavily pregnant lady got on the tube. There were no seats left, but there weren’t that many people standing so she was highly visible. She had a big round bump so was obviously pregnant, not sporting a big ‘oops I ate too many pies’ kind of belly.
Now I know most people are in their own little world on the tube, with their eyes closed, noses buried in books and papers or studiously looking at their shoes. Those people are excused for not offering her a seat. What can’t be excused and who should be publicly chastised, were the two women in their late 20’s who looked up, clocked her preggy belly and then quickly looked away in case she caught their eye. I was absolutely horrified. Within earshot of the two offending creatures I told the pregnant lady that I couldn’t believe that no one had offered her a seat. She wasn’t bitter, she smiled and said she never gets a seat and she is used to it now. The two girls were now extremely uncomfortable, squirming in their seats. They couldn’t help but cast furtive glances at her swollen belly, like they’d been told not to look there but just couldn’t stop themselves. I was like a one woman advocate for giving up your seat and kept staring at them, amused by now at their discomfort. A prime example of ‘do unto others…’ One day they or someone they care about may be in the same situation. I will happily give up my seat, even halfway across the carriage and when the person is grateful that small act of kindness and human connection makes the world a better place.
I shot them one last withering glare as I bustled off the train and into the chaos of Paddington. I didn’t have much time to spare and couldn’t see my destination on the board but the girl at the information counter said I needed to grab my ticket and bust a move over to the Reading train on platform 8. What she didn’t say however was that I needed to change at Reading. As we pulled out of Reading station an announcement came over the PA system, next stop Taunton at 10.45. But that was over an hour away. I thought the PA operator had made a mistake and smiled, the start of daylight savings can really mess people up. But when she read out all the stations and mine wasn’t one of them my smile faded. I asked a guy sitting across the aisle if Taunton was by Surrey and he responded that it was in Somerset. How could that be? Then the information lady’s instruction that my train was to Reading started to make a bit more sense.
I am determined to look at the silver linings in my ‘Day of the Trains’ experience so here they are:
* Lawrence, the very lovely and helpful train man wrote on my tickets so I wouldn’t get charged. That would really be adding insult to injury wouldn’t it, being charged for being an idiot.
* A very lovely supermarket girl served me instead of going on her lunch break, after I explained I was about to miss my train. She also gave me my orange juice for free and wished me godspeed as I walked in a super fast unflattering, skipping, running, walking fashion back to the station, lest I miss my train out of Taunton.
* My client was most understanding about me arriving late afternoon instead of 10am and he got a bit of a chuckle out of it.
* Luckily the magic of technology enabled me to work most of the time and my iPhone battery lasted long enough for me to remain in the work loop (although I did have to keep turning it off to preserve battery)
* I got to experience the delights of Somerset, albeit whipping past at a hundred miles an hour.
* Ok this one is a bit of a stretch but I am determined to look on the bright side – all that waiting around for my connecting trains helped me to learn the art of patience.
The irony was, if I had gone to Waterloo instead of Paddington it was a direct connection to my client site in Farnborough and I would have been there in an hour, not 7 hours!
Who knows, another upside about this could be a newfound hobby. Anyone up for a bit of trainspotting this weekend?