trading life times

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Window & wrought metal workAs we walk through the underground to the main Paddington station an announcers loudly fills the tube with a mumbled message. Jan covers her ears. The announcers voice was too painful to listen to

wendy: all trains to Reading are delayed

Concourse displays specify Delay, Delay, Delay….  Hundreds of people stand with their eyes held by the display. Murmurring rises. Jan pulls out her HTC Desire

Jan: Delays until 6.30pm, why don’t they tell me that at the station, why do I have to go to the web to find out

Wendy: can you send me that link for my phone

Jan: Um, err, probably, I’ll try

Our shoulders drop. What shall we do with this time at Paddington? Vicky looks near to tears

Vicky: I’ve got a softball game at 6.45pm

Jan notices  a slow, stops everytwhere, train to Banbury, a 90 mins rather than 25mins journey to Reading. We run, weaving through bewildered would-be passsengers, to platform 11.  Crushed against the train waiting for the doors to open, carried by the crowd onto the train. Midsummer heat, commuter sweat crammed into a carriage designed for half this load. People wearing black and grey.  I manage to climb onto the luggage rack, a seat! Jan and Vicky are swept apart into the standing-only isles. Two ladies near me don’t look like commuters, one wearing a cheerful pink dress, another wearing a jade outfit. Pinky bends down and peers into the lower level luggage rack

Pinky: there’s a child under there…

Jade: It’s a BOY

Synchronised smiling, the childs boyness explains his desire to climb into the luggage rack.  I ask the colourful duo

wendy: does anyone know what caused the delays?

pinky: A suicide on the line

wendy: how do you know?

Clock on Paddington StationPinky waves her Blackberry phone, She uses the Blackberry for the whole 2hr journey, raising her eyes only to answer my occassional question then say goodbye as she leaves the train. There are few conversations on the train. Most people appear deeply engrossed in bright phone screens. From my perch I can see 4 i-phone  screens – text conversations, games, reading the news

I make several attempts to start conversations with the people near me. They moan about how inconsiderate the suicide was, interrupting rush hour travel. Then they sink back into their hypnotic phones. Suicide on the line, one person traded the life they had left to give todays commuters some unanticipated travel time

I feel the need to use this precious time, someone-elses life time, wisely

trading life times
1 vote rating 5

2 bits of lovely banter on “trading life times”

  1. Cheerful Monk writes:

    Did you manage to spend that time wisely? I don’t own an iPhone, but my daughter and family were trapped in their basement for a few hours the other night because of tornado warnings. Their iPhone was a blessing because they could communicate with their neighbors. One woman and two children were in a closet in their basement and it was a big help when they could come out for a bit.

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  2. wendy writes:

    what a great story about how cellular phones can help isolated people know they aren’t alone, help give them hope.

    I spent that time talking, listening to, lifting luggage for, and raising smiles from the strangers next to me. Then I tried to find out who had died, these events are so common they aren’t reported on internet news articles, the delay is reported, no story on the person who died.

    Rail staff are now trained by Samaritans to notice and deal with suicidal people
    http://www.itv.com/central-west/preventing-train-suicide74085/

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