Good with words

Fear... distractions.... the efforts of a self-employed writer to pay the mortgage.... all that jazz.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Man Crying: Call 999

It seems as though my blog has been a shopping journal this last month or so. To redress the balance, here is a story about a train journey, a tunnel in the cliffs, and a boy who cried.

I was on a train (to Plymouth, but that is another, extremely emotionally-draining, story - just ask my mum). It was the most magnificent train journey in the world. The route wound through Exeter city, then straight down the Exe estuary and to the coast - and along the sea-front for miles and miles. It was fantastic - the train tunnelled through red cliffs and skirted dangerously along the coast, almost being lapped by the waves. Worth the £16 for the dreamy scenery alone. But suddenly, this picture of bliss was shattered: heaving sighs began from the seat behind mine.

They turned into sobs, and then sniffles, and soon it was weeping and nose-blowing ahoy. I worried about what to do, but I didn't know what sort of person was sitting behind me (which is important when you are wondering whether to be this person's source of comfort in an hour of need, obviously), and I tried to ignore it. Then I worried a lot more, about what could have set off this sobbing on a train journey, and all the terrible things that could have happened to this person, and I tried to pluck up the courage to turn and squeeze my face through the gap and ask if everything was okay.

Which it clearly wasn't, so I worried about what the person would say. After a few minutes the sobbing slowed down and then - horror of horrors - the person got up to leave their seat. And I finally saw that it was a young boy - alone - aged about 20. With the reddest eyes you've ever seen. He trotted off to the buffet cab, got a can of coca-cola and, trying to look casual, sat back down.

By now I was in total distress. All my maternal instincts had been prodded and when the sobs began again, I thought I was going to burst into tears as well.

I tried and tried to pluck up the courage to turn and ask if he was okay, or offer to fetch some tissues, or SOMETHING - but kept thinking of excuses. Oh, we're nearly there and I don't want to turn and ask and then when he starts talking the train pulls into the station. Well, I've cried on a train before and I would have preferred to be left alone. The very act of crying on a train is done in knowing solitude, isn't it? He is a young man, and the last person he would want to turn and speak to him is a young lady. Will he really want to talk about it? Everything is obviously NOT okay and I could open a can of worms and regret it forever.

On it went, until the train stopped, and I followed him along the platform, hoping to catch his eye and smile or talk to him, or SOMEthing.

Because a person who ignores a person crying is NOT the sort of person I want to be. Or think that I am. But just what exactly is the protocol for dealing with a crying stranger? Does anybody know??


  • At 4:17 AM, Blogger Liz said…

    Call yourself a writer? Why weren't you there, finding out his story? But better stil you can make one up.

    I wouldn't know what to do either, but I know people who would. But I want to be alone when I cry.


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