Thursday, November 22, 2012

Standing Room Only

The 17.07 train from Manchester Oxford Road to Scarborough was late, which meant that lots of extra commuters piled onto it.

This didn't please me, as it was the train that I was catching home after a day working on a medical students' exam in Manchester.

The train was already full and pretty soon it was so full that a few people couldn't get onto it at all.  It looked like those trains in India where people sit on the roof.  Except you'd be daft to sit on the roof of a Manchester commuter train, because it's always raining in Manchester.

The conductor apologised over the speaker system for its crowdedness and pointed out that some passengers would get off at Piccadilly and some more at Stalybridge.

So they did - - but a few more got on.  The train remained packed.  I was crammed into a corner, standing up of course.

I'm not good at standing up for prolonged periods because of my bad leg (I had a thrombosis in it, years ago).  Luckily my leg wasn't too bad as I'd just had a good walk along Oxford Road from Manchester Royal Infirmary where I'd been working.

A pleasant young man tried to get me a seat when one became free but I was the wrong end of the carriage and someone grabbed it.

The conductor, in another announcement, asked anyone sitting who could stand to stand so that others could sit.  Nobody moved - - well not in the carriage I was in, anyway.

The conducter, in a further announcement, said that he would be coming through the train to see if there were any spare seats.  I didn't think that there would be - in fact I knew there weren't! - but nevertheless he came past me a few minutes later, heading down the train.  He didn't speak to me but I knew he'd seen me - I was the oldest person standing.

Five minutes later he was back.  "I've found you a seat," he said.  "It's only one of those folding ones, I'm afraid, but it's the last seat on the train so I hope you won't mind.  I've got someone keeping it for you."

I followed him and, sure enough, there was a seat waiting for me.  So from Huddersfield to Leeds, I could sit.

Hurrah for that conductor who was really working very hard to ameliorate a really difficult situation.  I've been on packed trains before with no apology, let alone help.

The only downside is - - hey, I thought, I must look about a HUNDRED AND FIFTY.  I had been playing a 65-year-old all day (MUCH older than my actual years.  Yes, it DID take all my acting skills, I'm glad you mentioned that).

When I got home I realised that I was still wearing the hospital wristband that the students had used to check my identity in the exam - they had to check my name, date of birth and hospital number, just like in real life.

It gave my name as Mary Johnson and my date of birth as 4 March 1947.

Afterwards I thought - - what if I'd collapsed in a heap on the crowded train and they'd taken me to hospital and found my wristband?  Can you imagine the confusion?  "This woman says her name is Daphne but it says on her wristband that she's Mary.  Shall we just assume she's insane?"


Blogger Jennytc said...

Even if you had been born in 1947, you certainly wouldn't be OLD, Daphne, and I can (almost) testify to that. 60 is the new 40...!

8:37 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

I'll drink to that, Jenny.

And Daphne, anyone that can use "ameliorate" can't possibly be insane. A smart arse maybe, but not insane.

8:45 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

What mugs we all are! These train companies - that charge ridiculously high prices - can cram people on to trains with insufficient seats and get no legal comeuppance. To me, if you're on a train without a seat you should get all or part of your ticket price refunded. Regarding customer relations, the traffic seems to be all top down and travellers are just pound signs on legs.

9:37 am  

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