I’ve stopped and looked at you. This time I’ve really looked at you. The older woman breathless from running who sat beside me on the train.
The train didn’t run today so they put us all on an over heated double decker bus, the sun beating down on all through the windows and packed us off disgruntled to a station where we would make a connection with a train to our final destination. Due to traffic it became apparent the bus wasn’t going to make it to the station on time for the connecting train due in.
“Seven minutes “ someone shouted “we have seven minutes “ having obviously checked their national rail enquiries app. As one, in a collaborative non verbal agreement struck between passengers, the bus doors opened allowing us to run to catch the train. Out spewed all it’s hot passengers except an older couple with suitcases who remained,looking like they had all the time in the world or perhaps they where resigned to the fact that they wouldn’t make the connecting train on time. You told me later that they where going to Scotland.
I found myself in a race to the station my legs propelling me forward , dodging traffic across a busy road, racing across a car park, through the barrier and across a tunnel to where the train was just slowing to a stop. I jumped on and sat in a seat relived. Some of my fellow passengers from the bus already seated , others breathlessly arriving.
You’d run for the train and where hot and perspiring when you sat down beside me, you told me you followed me. “I couldn’t run as fast as you with those young legs” you chuckled continuing “I haven’t ran like that since school”.
I smiled and jokingly advised if you ran it the next day and the next performance would improve. You laughed your smile big and generous. We could have left it there and settled into silence, I could have popped my headphones on and happily lost in music, stare out of the window until we arrived at our respective stops-but I didn’t. You intrigued me with your friendliness and open conversation and being Irish I love a good chat and I’m naturally curious about people (others may say nosey). “I’m not that young anyway “ I said “I’m nearly Fifty “. I was thinking I’d get sage advice when you responded with “I’m nearly 60!” Our birthdates where a month apart. “ are you having a party?” I asked. Interested to know what type of parties 60 year olds throw.
You paused “no, my partner died ten months ago so …no….no party” my chest tightened with empathy “I’m sorry to hear” I stumbled but you went on cheerily “ I had a 40th though, that was brilliant”. You proceeded to tell me about the party, a glam rock one, that everyone dressed up for. I told you it sounded fabulous to which you agreed , all the time my mind racing. Do I need to say more?
How did you manage not to make me feel socially awkward? How did you manage not to download on that train after that hot bus ride, or that sprint across the road and a large car park? Because you said it all when you said you wouldn’t have a party for your sixtieth and how you spoke about the great time you had at your fortieth.
So I noticed you,
I noticed your humour, noticed your dignity, noticed we are ten years in age difference and I still have lots to learn about life despite being almost 50. I will need to learn the art of being kind to strangers when I mention to them about loved ones who have passed away whether they are parents or partner and tell them about happier times at large parties. I noticed, that when we meet people, even in fleeting train journeys we don’t know them or what their lives are or have been like. I noticed that I needed to remind myself when I next sit beside someone on the train or stand in the checkout line at the supermarket the person next to me could possibly be a lover of glam rock.
I think Paddy Cordell an Art of Brilliance trainer sums it up best “Get out of the habit of walking with your head down, look up and see the beauty that is all around, smile and for one day no complaining. Smile at people as they go past and you will soon see the world is a brighter place”