Sole Street

I started this post ages ago. It’s been a while since I posted anything on here, and I decided a good way to reawaken Thoughts along the way would be to revisit those entries that never made it past “draft” status.

The story is short. On my way back up north after a few days at my parents’, I and my fellow would-be passengers were confronted with a crazily long delay (even for the notorious British rail network). After finally being rescued from a toe-numbing winter’s wait we were given the explanation, “We apologise for the late running of this service. This was due to some children at Sole Street.”

‘Well that’s enlightening,’ thinks Tamara. ‘I’m not catching that coach. Unless it’s delayed. (God knows. :))’

A chance conversation with the girl next to me shed light on the mystery. It turned out we had a few things in common. We’d gone to the same school, albeit a couple of years apart. She vaguely knew my brother. We’d both studied languages. She worked for a publisher specialising in my field. It also turned out she’d been on the train when the “children” incident had occurred. A group of teenage boys were refusing either to pay the fare or to get off the train, hurling threats and abuse at the train guard. The stand-off had continued until security personnel had to remove them by force. My new acquaintance shared how admirably the man had handled the situation, and how frightening the whole episode had been.

It got me thinking about the far-reaching effects of some random boys’ decision to be rebellious. Scores of people inconvenienced, troubled, left cold and uncomfortable. Potentially causing strangers hundreds of pounds in missed connections. A lost job interview opportunity. Who knows?

When I’m the one put out it’s easy to react by asking, “How can someone be so selfish?” I choose to hope that, somehow, the impact of their actions hadn’t dawned on those lads. That should the potential repercussions of their choices hit home, the weight of it would make them shudder. That they’d ask themselves, “What right do I have to cause hundreds of people pain, suffering, worry, expense? How could I think that because the actions were mine, I must be the only one affected?”

Which begs the question, what am I doing that has implications for people I may not even know? How often am I oblivious to the fact that my actions will always lead to results, and usually not just for me. Just as those boys could only see “my choice about buying a ticket,” or the train guard “bothering me,” how often do I see “my body,” “my car,” “my business whether I wash up now or in the morning,” and miss the family member hurt by what I do with that body, the many people affected should my behaviour lead to an accident in that car, or the person who adds my chores to their own because I didn’t do it when I had the time.

Let me never again be one of those children at Sole Street. Not doing what I should, or doing what I shouldn’t. Allowing my seemingly small, unrelated actions to cause trouble for someone else.

I’m glad though, that in every story there’s something to smile about. I made a great new contact that day. And despite “some children’s” best efforts, I did catch the coach!


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