Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, February 1, 2008

Travelling Light

"I am a believer in punctuality though it makes me very lonely."
-E. V. Verrall

It was rush hour in Dublin, Ireland. People were scampering here and there to catch their trains and ride back home. I have personally seen that station at 5 PM and it is not a pleasant sight. Oh, the thundering elephants and cacophony of footsteps all hurrying to get the best seat or, oftentimes, standing room if they are lucky!
One such train was standing on the track and murmuring for the signal to depart. A woman who happened to be visually impaired was given the benefit of boarding first and she was assisted onto the carriage by a station worker. All was well and the lady took her seat.
300 individuals were in line behind this traveller and behind a barrier that prevented spillage onto the platform. They watched, aghast, as the whistle blew, the doors closed and the train, absurdly, began to pull gently out of the station.
The lone rider coasted along for 120 miles, all the way to Limerick City without a single fellow passenger for company.
It seems that the station master understood the mistake immediately and alerted the driver; the latter, however, preferred to continue as reversing even a few feet would have cost too much time and money.
The dismayed non-passengers were promptly put onto a much more luxurious and more comfortable train to pacify the prospect of unrest. They were swiftly taken care of and as far as I know were not inconvenienced too badly.
I fell upon this story in my local newspaper this afternoon. I cannot, try as I might, get the image from my mind of a solitary soul trundling along all by herself. Did she wonder, as she sat among the unaccustomed silence, if perhaps her hearing was faulty too? It must have been a mighty picture from afar to see the engine roll by with one lonely head framed in a single window of an extensively long train.
I am all for punctuality and do take it to the extreme on occasion. This tale, however, is devoid of all logic. And yet, it does have one thing that is sorely lacking in most items that one finds in the newspaper: not a soul was hurt in the incident and I emerged from reading it in superlatively fine spirits having just been provided the best laugh I have had in an alarmingly long time.

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