The woman was curt with the old blind man, the seat was hers and he was in it. To be fair, she didn’t know he was blind at first, then she did, then she wanted her seat.
The Virgin train seat reservation system did not seem to have kicked in throughout carriage D.
It was a busy time, air warm with yeasty booze breath and rapidly sunk Subway sandwiches.
The slick young things, lean, greased and groomed boarded and saw the old hatted man taking one of their seats.
“You’re in our seat.”
He was not quite sure what was going on.
“These are our booked seats.”
They looked as if they could not understand why he did not move quickly, after all, he as trespassing on their cushions.
I lent over and explained that the seat reservation system was not working.
They did not understand why he asked about his friend and where she was.
Their young knees must have been twitching in the agony of having to remain unbent and put upon all the way from the Malmaison.
I wasn’t sure how to say “he’s blind” to explain why he wasn’t moving quicksmart as I didn’t want to offend the sat man and technically it was not my fight.
I gestured through a hand across my eyes and a mouthed “he’s blind” and the man nodded.
His partner was less patient.
Fortunately, the blind man’s friend came back and helped him to seats further away. By this point, I was giving up my seat to a mum of three, so I hand nothing tangible left to give.
What would you have done?
I don’t think the slick young thing was being unkind, she was just taking what was hers. Her ticket had a number on it. Those were her seats. Nowhere in this project was there the thought that she could go somewhere else because there was an old blind man in her seat, what if that interfered with the pattern of her day?
Later, it turned out the seat I had given up had been booked at Stoke on Trent. The woman with the foiled sealed glass of Pinot Grigio ousted her and the three, popped the earphones in and sipped.
The children played with the doors.
The rules were all being followed. Those who had their numbers must obey their numbers.
I was happy crouched by the door, hobo scrunched and immersed in a good book.
The lack of stale crisp belch fog and rheumy eyed booze faces was reward enough.
I am on tour. The Monkey Cage book is out tomorrow. I am doing a benefit with Billy Bragg, Mark Thomas and more. Details of all such things are HERE.
This piece made my heart ache. Up there with “I’m just following orders”.
I think we are living through an empathy-void epidemic.
Karma has a way of balencing the ledger though.
Who is to say who will go blind, or become an exhausted mother of three themselves, further down life’s track?
Have a great tour Robin.
When I came out from your shows in Edinburg & back into life’s throng, my heart & mind felt both lighter & enlightened.