I wrote on here a couple of years ago about certain disgusting habits on the London Underground which seemed to get lots of people agreeing with me. I would like to share my experience from last Friday, where after a minor but painful eye surgery, I was heading home complete with a huge patch on my left eye. My husband was leading me down stairs and on escalators, manoeuvring around people just rushing to get home. Meanwhile I totally underestimated just how vulnerable I was with one eye, and how scared I was of any small knock from rushing commuters.
When we finally got to the platform, I was even more petrified as we boarded a completely packed tube. However, a lady standing suddenly shouted to everyone in the carriage ‘Can you all step aside please and can one of you give up your seat, this young lady clearly needs to sit’. To this, two ladies the closest to me sitting down, just looked at each other and didn’t move, so the lady standing insisted again, ‘Can one of you get up please?’
Finally a lady stood up and I said thanks to both her and the lovely lady who stood up for me. She proceeded to tell me how it was just as bad for her when she was heavily pregnant and how no men or women gave up seats.
What else happened besides this you may be wondering? Well for a start, once I sat down I saw so many passengers look at me and when I caught their eye, I’d smile , but they would quickly look away. Why is it that some feel so uncomfortable with something slightly different? If I saw someone smile at me, I actually grin straight back. There were some who just looked at me with a look of horror and pity, which I totally get, I looked at me in horror, though I also felt a huge sense of gratitude for having sight.
What shocked me about this scenario is the lack of empathy and how in a tube full of people, one lady spoke up. Don’t get me wrong,I have seen men be just as gracious,but on Friday that just wasn’t the case.
Is it just because I haven’t been on a packed tube in a while, or is this the new norm? Are we so engrossed in phones, books, TV shows and gossip that we can’t see when someone might need some help or to even smile at a stranger? What’s the worst that can happen from a smile?
P.S: To the lady on the underground at Old Street, thank you, you made me not lose faith in humanity!