Everyday heroes on the Overground

On the Overground this morning, I caught a man. It wasn’t an every day experience. We were holding on 2-3 deep along the aisle, just coming into Surrey Quays when a man began to fall. His legs gave way and then he let go of the strap he was holding onto.

I sort of caught his back, then his head, so he didn’t bash it as he fell. It was almost as if he was swooping.

The overground

Then, my first thought was, “If you’re having a fit I’m the worst person to be near you.” Thankfully, some of the other passengers were more aware of what to do.

I realised afterwards that I did a selfish thing in the midst of it – I checked my page number (60) so I wouldn’t lose my place in the book. It was additionally stupid as I had randomly opened the book and started reading when I got on the train. But that’s Brett Easton Ellis’s work for you.

Other people got off the train and some got on. Someone called for the emergency cord to be pulled. Eventually someone did so and a monotonous beeping sound started.

Someone called out for water. When none was immediately forthcoming they called “a man has collapsed, can we have water?” It turns out that very few of us carry water, or are willing to give it up. Two women came forward with water.

The man came round and we found out that he wasn’t having a fit, he said he had been for a blood test that morning. And he hadn’t recovered yet.

A woman pushed through the crowd of passengers. I stopped her, there’s a man down. “I’m a nurse,” she said. I felt a bit embarrassed then.

Really, the man was being a fool, but it’s easy to be so. But I’m a fool too, many of us are. If you’re feeling ill, ask for a seat, but many of us don’t. You could be saving yourself and everyone else on your train an unexpected delay. I remember looking at him and seeing how visibly white he was, completely drained of colour and looking frail.

The man got off at Canada Water, the next stop, and a woman stayed with him, chatting and being his guardian angel. 


3 thoughts on “Everyday heroes on the Overground”

  1. I think calling him a fool is unreasonable. There are lots of barriers to asking for a seat.

    If I stand up on a train or bus, there’s a moderately high chance that I’ll dislocate a hip or a shoulder because of a connective tissue disorder. I’m under doctor’s orders not to stand up on buses or trains.

    I’m sometimes offered a seat (because I often use a walking stick). If I’m not offered a seat, I rarely ask for one, because it takes a lot of courage and energy to deal with potentially having to justify my need for a seat to people who don’t want to give theirs up. The more feeble I’m feeling, the less likely I am to be able to muster the energy and courage.

    If you see someone who looks ill, offer them a seat; don’t wait for them to ask. Or, if you’re already standing, ask them loudly if they’re OK and if they need a seat, to prompt someone else to offer.

    1. Fair enough, I haven’t had your experience. I’m a bit horrified that anyone would challenge someone asking for a seat, I’ve always just presumed that if someone asks they have good reason.

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