Friday, January 13, 2012

A Story, An Observation, and Some Philosophy

Yesterday I left work about 45 minutes earlier than usual.  I waited for about 15 minutes for the train to come, but I was so glad that it was still light outside that I didn't even mind the wait.  I got off the train at Courthouse to wait for the train that would take me home, and I waited there, too.  But that was OK.  There were lots of people laughing, the sun was shining (it was COLD!), and I was so grateful to NOT be at work that I just stood there patiently waiting.

The train came, and I got a seat (no small feat at 5:00 p.m.).  At the next stop a man and his 8-year-old got on the train.  The man was a bit short with his son, and that always makes me kinda sad, but he also told him he loved him and was just trying to keep him safe.  We had traveled about 2 blocks when the train came to a very long stop.  We moved about 50 feet and stopped again.  Before we even got to the next stop, it was apparent that there was some kind of problem. 

The trip from 900 S. to 1300 S. took about 20 minutes.  During those 20 minutes I took a tiny (teeny tiny) power nap, listened to two young men talk about their majors and their missions, and listened to a woman say the f-word about 10 times.  When we finally arrived at 1300 S. we learned two things:  first, a pedestrian had been hit and killed by a Trax train at the very next stop; and second, our train was having mechanical problems.

We all got off the train.  They uncoupled the last car and pulled it backward down the track to where the next train in line was already parked and waiting.  They then re-routed the track and used what had been the middle car to pull the ailing lead car off onto the detour.  Then they re-routed the track again, pulled the one car forward, and started loading people.  That whole process took about 45 minutes. 

45 minutes can be a long time.  First of all, it was cold.  Now, I'm not talking about Aundrea-is-cold-while-everyone-else-is-fine.  It was COLD.  Everyone was cold.  I know this, because I heard about 25 different people utter one version or another of the phrase "It's cold!"  Some people used the phrase conversationally, almost laughing as they said it.  Some people threw in a number of expletives just so they could finally convey to all of us that it was cold, in case we didn't know (presumably).

There was one couple there who were clearly high, and the woman was seriously NOT in good shape.  She needed to clean up in the worst way.  WE needed her to clean up in the worst way.  I think she used the f-word about every 3 words on average.  Not kidding, here.  The only way to ignore it was to focus on something else, like its frequency.

One man could have won a world record in how many complaints he came up with in 45 minutes.  "That's what they get for having too many trains on the tracks."  "How many more people will they kill?"  "This is ridiculous!"  "I think it would faster if I walked home."  "How about we just do the job UTA is doing such a crappy job at, and PUSH the train ourselves."  I left out all of his expletives.  You're welcome.

I was really frustrated at people's lack of patience or kindness.  But then I realized that the only differences between many of them and me was that my irritation was with PEOPLE rather than situations or an object AND I didn't say mine out loud.  I guess that makes me the shallow person that you already know I am.

On the other hand, because I didn't speak my frustrations aloud, I didn't annoy the people around me.  I didn't make a difficult situation worse through foul language or complaints or unkindness.  And neither did many other people.  It's just that the loud, obnoxious, rude ones are the ones who get the attention, ya know?

There was a woman whose husband was coming to pick her up.  She offered another woman--a stranger--a ride home.  There was a woman with two small children in daycare, who quietly called her daycare provider and offered her explanation and her sincere apologies. 

When we got back on the train, it was just one car.  We had previously been on 3 cars.  It was packed!  Again, many people complained.  But most people were grateful to be on their way, to have heat, and to good-naturedly share smiles and sighs with their neighbors.  There were so many people that I didn't have a handhold.  At one point the train slowed abruptly, and my neighbor from behind held me upright while my nieghbor facing me grabbed my hand. 

I believe most people are good.  I believe most people are kind.  I believe most people just try to make the best of their difficult situations.  I believe most people try to help other people whenever they can.  Some are not, and some do not.  Which kind are you and I?


Mar said...

You are good and kind and generous. Spunky? Yes! Feisty? Heck yes! And that is part of what makes you so wonderful.