Today I got overcarried. That is a word; not a spelling mistake. It’s a word I’d never come across before today and having it happen to me has renewed my faith in human nature.
What happened was that I missed my stop on the train to work. I should get off at Leicester, where I head over to De Montfort University to teach creative writing. This morning, there was quite a queue getting off the train. I’d sat in the carriage that only had one passenger door, so I had to wait to get out of my seat, and was the last person off the train.
As soon as I stood on the platform, I realised I’d left my coat on the train. It was a split second decision. If I’d had more time to think about it, I’d have figured out that it wasn’t worth the risk. I’d have remembered that I paid £16 for the coat in a sale at Sainsbury’s and that its light blue colour means it gets dirty enough to look scruffy every time I walk the dogs. But I didn’t have time to think about these things. All I had time to think was ‘train, no train’.
I plumped for ‘train’ and struggled to get back on and past the many commuters boarding the fast train to London. Then I struggled back towards the door past them. I could see it there, open. I could see it closing… I knew it was closing to lock but I pressed on the open button in a vain hope that it might work. It didn’t.
Yes, I said ‘fast train to London’. From Leicester, at just shy of 8:30am, this means the train doesn’t stop. I was on my way to London.
I found the train manager and explained, fully expecting to be charged the full, peak fare to our lovely capital city. I think I was probably visibly upset. That’s certainly how it felt. The train manager’s name was Hayley and she was a wonderful human being. She explained that she could help me, and would sort out a ticket to get me back to where I needed to be. She asked me if I wanted a cup of tea, and if I needed to borrow a phone to ring someone.
Hayley made me a cuppa and gave me cookies and a bottle of water too. I got through to my work colleagues, who were their usual, wonderfully supportive selves. I sat down on the train and posted about it on Facebook only to discover a friend was on board in the next carriage along. I went to find her and we chatted away until the train pulled into London St Pancras. These warm and empathetic fellow human beings made everything all right. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’m now in Leicester and can officially confirm that my husband made the best joke about it.
Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
Earlier this evening I was listening to someone talking about how the world had gone to pot, that there was nothing but misery out there. A list followed to back up this point: child abuse, drug abuse (though clearly the “abuse” in these cases have slightly different connotations), the poor souls trying to escape Libya, and suicidal pilots. To be fair, I was only aware of one of the latter, but the way it was expressed suggested an epidemic had broken out. Almost inevitably, regret was expressed about how times had changed and it wasn’t like the “good old days”.
Personally, I’m a fan of nostalgia. I prefer music from the ’70s and ’80s and I like movies and TV shows from those times as well. All those things are reflected in my writing. But I don’t look back and wish I could still live there. And I’m not naïve enough to think everything really was sweetness and light then.
So, in my naturally argumentative way, I said that I accepted that there were horrible things in the world, but I didn’t think they were the norm. Because I really believe that most people are good at heart. We all make mistakes, we all have days when our inner angst reflects out into the world and we say and do bad things. But the reality for most of us is that we try to do the best we can for ourselves and our families and, where the opportunity arises, for other people.
It’s easy to forget this, especially when all the bad stuff is reinforced by the media (because that’s what sells!). What we need more of, though, is the good stuff. And even when they’re small kindnesses we should share those stories with each other.
So it seemed appropriate (or was it fate?) that I was drawn to this post by Nicola Monaghan. It was great that she shared it, and I hope other will share it too. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to share some of your stories, no matter how trivial they may seem.