I don’t tend to make a habit of making people cry. I’d go as far as to say I avoid it completely. I even have this thing where I don’t like bringing physical harm to other people. All of that eluded me today, unfortunately.
I’ve done trains before. I use them every day for work, travelling home, long journeys, that kind of thing. If you had to classify my abilities as a train passenger you would rate me ‘experienced’ – a man well versed in the little rules and regulations, considerate when it comes to carriage etiquette and respectful conduct.
I made the train with minutes to spare following a frantic dash across central London. Boarding the 15.00 to Bristol Temple Meads I placed my overnight bag in the overhead storage and slumped in the window seat, glad to rest after a two-day conference. A lady took the seat next to me and the train soon left the station.
As the train pulled out of Paddington at quite some pace there was an uncharacteristically large jolt. More than a jolt, it was a fearsome rocking, so vicious that people were bumped from their seats, gasps flew out as coffees spilled, phones were dropped to the floor and people clung at anything they could to avoid knocking into others.
It was during all of this that the woman next to me screamed. I only saw a black flash, heard a loud thud and was partially deafened by her swift shriek of pain. She had been firmly struck in the head by a falling case with quite some power. The lady was in tears, clutching her head with both hands and trying to restrict her sobs as myself and the other train passengers fussed around her.
It was then that I saw the case in the walkway. My overnight bag, with its wheels and firm metal casing, lying there looking back at me as if to say ‘What? It’s not my fault I’m down here.’ I had the horrible realisation that the agony this woman was suffering had happened because of me. I don’t know how or why the bag didn’t stay up there, but I felt the many glaring looks as I reached past the crying lady and reclaimed the evil bag, managing only a feeble ‘Oh God, how did that happen?’
I apologised as often and as genuinely as I could, offered to buy her a drink, get her some water or anything else she needed. Through regular sobs and sniffs, she declined but acknowledged my efforts as best she could. The man sat on the other side of us continued to lean over, glare at me and then fuss over her like some smarmy white knight. Other passengers snuck regular looks at the entertainment, the crying woman and the guilty bag-attack man, forced to sit next to each other.
I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever partially concussed a woman, made her cry and then sat next to her for an hour and 45 minutes in uncomfortable silence but it’s really not much fun at all. So desperate had I been to get the bag out of the aisle and hide it by my feet that it was wedged painfully against my shins, blocking access to my other bag. I was therefore trapped, no access to my bottle of water, no music or book to provide escapism, just shin pain and social awkwardness. I needed the toilet but couldn’t now disturb this woman again or risk putting the bag back in the overhead. The only thing I could focus on for one hour and 45 minutes was the slow, consistent sobs of the woman next to me and the occasional glances from the rest of the carriage who regarded me as the official train douchebag. This was my penitence.
We finally rolled into Bristol and the lady’s sobs finally dissolved into a faint snotty sniffing. I offered a final apology, it was politely acknowledged and we both swiftly went our separate ways, ready to try to forget the whole thing as best we could.
P.S. When choosing a picture for this I initially typed ‘crying woman pictures’ into Google. Imagine what kind of a sicko my search history makes me look like now? That’s on my file. If ever I get linked to something bad, they’ll draw on this ‘yeah I heard he gets off on pics of crying women, that despicable man!’ It’s not the case I promise.
Love Rick x