Can I Help?

I don’t often write about my day to day job. I don’t often disclose details on here or Facebook or any other social media account I run.
Today is an exception.
Yesterday, I, with 3 other colleagues proceeded to board one of our services and carry out a full ticket check.

My job is basically to deal with ticketless travel, in whatever form it may come in. I’ve received extensive training, but mostly it boils down to common sense, customer services and ensuring you remain professional no matter what. A little compassion thrown in doesn’t hurt either, after all, we’re all human!

Whilst going through the train, I came across a young woman, who was visibly upset. She was wiping away tears and obviously trying her hardest not to cry in public. I’ve been there, it’s hard and embarrassing and a tad humiliating, and you worry people are staring at you, judging you, making assumptions.
Before you ask, yes, she did have a ticket, yes it was valid and no I didn’t make her cry!

I asked her if she was ok, and she mumbled something, wiping her tears with a tissue that she had just fished out of her bag.
I sat down next to her, and I asked her if I could help with anything, and she shook her head and said that she’d be ok.
That’s when I looked down and I saw a bunch of leaflets littering her lap, all about cancer and cancer treatments and cancer support services.

This woman, like many other people around the world, has to deal with cancer and it’s heart wrenching affects.

The likelihood was that she had recently been diagnosed, but it is possible that she’d been with a loved one who’d been diagnosed. Either way, it’s shit.

I told her that if she needed anything, where to find me, and asked if there was anyone I could call for her.
She said no, but thanked me.

In reality I didn’t actually do anything for that lady. But I showed compassion to someone who was in a vulnerable position.

Cancer is an absolutely horrible disease. I hate it with all my being.

I lost my grandad to Cancer. It was horrible and traumatic. I was 6 months pregnant. I commuted to the hospital to be with him every day. I sat with him when he took his final breaths. I helped arrange his funeral, register his death, and I did a reading at his funeral. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him or think about him.

People die. Sadly that’s the way of the world. We cannot all live forever. However dying because of cancer is horrific. It’s a disease that doesn’t just affect the person who has it, but their family, friends and colleagues.

At this moment in time, I have a friend who is battling Cancer. So far every treatment hasn’t worked. Her positivity is amazing and I admire her greatly. She is 30.

It’s not fair.

Cancer, I hate you and I will rejoice on the day that there is a breakthrough in eradicating you. Hell, I’ll have a god damn street party!

That said, back to the lady I encountered.

I hope she will be ok.
I’m glad I took the time to ask if she was ok or if I could help her.

If you see someone who is upset or looks vulnerable, please don’t just look and walk on by. It only takes 2 seconds to stop and offer help or ask if someone is ok. That 2 seconds could mean a lot to someone. Hell, in some cases that 2 seconds could save someone’s life.

Compassion is a great skill to have. Please use it. It doesn’t cost anything.

Ranty Friday

So, it looks like we are finally moving. To a bigger home, to accomodate the ever growing equipment that comes with having a child.

But this dear readers is not my rant, although I suspect in the coming weeks that I will get a bee in my bonnet over something that is related to moving. No. This rant is about the cost of travel.

train-tickets

You see I am lucky enough that I get discounted travel due to my job. However because I have to work, I need childcare. It is not financially viable for myself or The Husband to be a stay at home parent. It is also not financially viable to put Emma into a full time day care (HOLY CRAP ARE THEY EXPENSIVE!) so my mother comes and has Emma a few days a week. It is a godsend. Emma has a great bond with her nana, and my mother, who cannot just sit still and chill for anymore than 5 minutes takes the time to dust, do a load of laundry or the vacuuming, and we are very grateful to her. We continually tell her that she doesn’t need to do those things, but my mother is like me, stubborn and headstrong and well, doesn’t listen to anyone!!

So instead of forking out my entire monthly salary to a day care (YES IT IS THAT EXPENSIVE!) I pay my mothers travel to us. Currently it is £177.80 a month. Not a huge amount, and when she isn’t coming to care for Emma, she can use it to go to her hospital appointments, or into town to shop/sight-see etc. Its certainly a hell of a lot cheaper than a daycare!

Now that we are moving further out (2 stops on the train) I expected the cost of the season ticket I buy my mother to increase. What I wasn’t expecting was to be told that a season ticket between the two stations does not exist and therefore the cheapest ticket is a travelcard between Staines and Zones 1-6. The cost £295.30. WHAT!?!?

It seems that my mother is the only person who will regularly be travelling between Kidbrooke and Staines. Understandablely hard to believe that out of several million people living in and around Greater London, that this is the case. She also has no need to use the underground or buses, so why a travelcard?

I did my research and discovered that a monthly season ticket between Feltham and Staines is £87.20. Add that to the monthly cost of the current season ticket of £177.80, you get a total of £265. Cheaper than the cheapest ticket I was told was my only available option! By £30.30. Granted £30.30 isn’t a huge amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but that £30.30 is a weekly fresh food shop for us. It could be used to purchase Emma new clothing, or shoes (kiddo is a weed i tell you!)

My rant isn’t the cost of the travel, but rather the fact that I was told the cheapest ticket was a travelcard by a member of staff, when it actually wasn’t. It is no wonder that people get annoyed by the cost of train fares.

When I started on the railway, I was always told that when selling a ticket to someone, you give them the best available fare for their needs. To my knowledge this is still the practice today, so why hasn’t it happened on this occassion?

If it wasn’t for the fact that I did a little bit of research, I’d be paying an additional £30.30, when I don’t need to.

It is frustrating and annoying and I am off to ask South West Trains why there isn’t a monthly train only season ticket.

Reminder to all, do your research before buying things. Don’t just assume everything you are told is the be all and end all.

Julius Frank – Velociraptor Train Driver

Julius Frank sat in his depot, waiting for the hands on the clock to tick over. Shortly he’d be driving the Reading to Waterloo train, and he was slightly upset as he’d had no breakfast. He was also upset because his week wasn’t going to plan. Everyone in the depot was a bit wary of Julius, he liked it most of the time, as he was a solitary soul; being a train driver suited him. But it was a bit annoying when he walked into the depot and the other drivers went quiet, no one even included him in the banter. For some reason they were all scared of him, expect the revenue staff, because he seemed to make their jobs that much easier. Even some of his regulars were scared of him, and it did make them very polite.

His week hadn’t been going well at all, only yesterday he’d been called into the office; his Driver Manager said to him “Julius, how many times do we have to tell you, we use the Revenue Staff to fine fare evaders, you must stop eating them! Whilst revenue is up on the Reading to Waterloo line, passenger numbers are down. At this point we may have to make some of the current Revenue staff redundant if you keep snacking on their workload”

As Julius left the office he heard his Driver Manager mutter “Who’s bright idea was it to give a bloody velociraptor a job here.”

The clock ticked over, and it was time to wander down to his specially adapted train. Having had no breakfast, he sincerely hoped that any fare evaders kept away so that he didn’t have to eat them. A disciplinary would not be a good thing, especially since he’d take a chunk out of his last union rep and Bob Crow had revoked his membership. Julius wondered how Mr Crow would taste as he climbed into the cab.

Pride, Prejudice & Pregnancy

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that in the UK, on trains travelling into London, a pregnant women in need of a seat is rarely offered one.

Yeah, you heard right. It’s a rare occurrence now, and not just with pregnant women, but also passengers with crutches, passengers with the leg encased in plaster, and even passengers in Wheelchairs, where others sitting in the dedicated wheelchair section on the train, refuse to give up their seats.

As a pregnant woman I’ve been shoved out of the way by other commuters fighting to get on the train first, of course not that there is any seats spare for them to sit in.  It often reminds me of when a plane lands and as soon as it lands, everyone undoes their seatbelts and starts to stand to grab luggage from overhead compartments and queuing in the aisle to disembark. The majority of the time you’re not going to get any further than anyone else, because you still have to get your baggage off the plane (which won’t be done until the plane has stopped, been parked at the gate and it’s safe for baggage handlers to start unloading) and then once you’ve got your bag, you’ve still got to clear customers and immigration.  It’s a pointless exercise.

Anyway, I digress by talking about airline travel. Where was I? Oh yes, back to pregnant ladies having to stand whilst other passengers don’t offer a seat.

There are two arguments to this.

The first is, being pregnant is not an illness, and some commuters feel and wonder why should they give up the seat they’ve secured and paid for (often rail travel can be expensive, especially in the morning peak times) to someone else, who didn’t get on the train in time to get a seat. Why is it that all of a sudden a pregnant woman cannot stand, as she did before she became pregnant?

Well, to those people who have this view, here is my answer. Firstly, have you ever grown a child inside your body? No? Then you haven’t got the slightest clue on what happens throughout a woman’s body when she is expecting. Yes? The perhaps you should rewind your memories and remember what it was like when you were expecting.  The constant tiredness; the constant nausea; the blood pressure that acts like a Mexican jumping bean, going up and down and up and down. The additional weight you carry in front, which in turn causes your back muscles to ache if you spend too long standing in one position.  The sore feet, which often swell up. The varicose veins that can appear on the backs of your legs.  The spike in blood sugar and the drop in blood sugar as your body tries to regulate itself to not only give you the nutrients you need, but also ensure your placenta is carrying the relevant nutrients to your baby.

Secondly? Compassion and Empathy. What if that pregnant woman was your wife, partner, sister, daughter or grand-daughter? Would you be happy to let them stand on a journey, whilst you sit back reading your metro, drinking your overpriced latte and sneaking the odd glance at them? Somehow I doubt it.

The second argument is this. As a woman, you chose to get pregnant and therefore you shouldn’t expect any special treatment.

My answer to that is, are you freaking kidding me? Re-read my answer to the first argument and stop being a douche.

As a woman, on a packed train, who has had hardly any sleep due to constantly waking to pee and to try and get comfortable because of the pain in my lower back and hips, I can’t bring myself to ask someone who is sitting if I can have their seat. Instead of pulling up my big girl panties and asking, I feel slightly embarrassed and that I’m being rude. In my head I’m raging at those sitting, look up, see me and my baby on board badge and do nothing, but I’ve not got the courage to make a scene. For all I know that person sitting, could have a disability and could need the seat just as much as me. Who am I to judge?

However, what I do want to say is that if you are a commuter, just I don’t have the moral right to judge you; neither do you have the moral right to judge me. You don’t know me and you don’t know my story. To you, I’m just a woman, in a slightly too big navy coat (room to grow you see) wearing a baby on board badge. To me, you’re just another passenger travelling into the city. Just for once, think about what that baby on board badge means. It means a woman who may be tired because she’s not sleeping well, but still has to get up and go to work, to pay the bills.  It could mean a woman who has a high risk pregnancy, but can’t afford to stay at home or take her maternity leave early because she is in a low paid job. It could mean a woman whose blood pressure and blood sugar is yo-yoing and perhaps her feet are swollen and she really needs to sit down.

10 times out of 10, a pregnant woman who is standing on a train, tube or bus, would be extremely thankful and appreciative if you got up and offered her your seat. Raging hormones may mean she cries too, that comes with being pregnant unfortunately.

Remember that she’s not just a pregnant woman, she’s also someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s sister and so on. Have a little compassion and empathy, because one day it could be you standing on a train and needing a seat for whatever reason, and instead of someone offering you one, instead, they’ll do what you did, they’ll look at you and then ignore you, probably all the while thinking you should have got there earlier.

 

 

sex, cheating and trains

It’s not polite, but people do it all the time. Reading over the shoulder of others that is. Especially when you’re standing and the other person is sitting. Even more so when a few explicit words catch your eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I did it. I read over the shoulder of the man next to me on the train this morning, but in my defense I couldn’t help it! He was sitting and I was standing next to him. He was texting his wife, and the word “sex” caught me eye. I couldn’t not read it. And then, well, I just got sucked into it.

The gist, which I tweeted about this morning, was that he’d clearly been caught having “extra-marital” sex.
Her texts were all “I want it to be just us.” and “no more touching other people, just me” and his replies were all “yes, just you and me” and “I only want to have sex with you”.

Then he moved from his iPhone to his Blackberry and responded to a BBM message from another woman.
The gist of those messages were “I miss you” and “I can’t live without you” and “I want to die”.
His replies were very nice and caring, very much “don’t do that, you’re a special person” etc.

Then he moved back to his iPhone.
The wife had sent another message. This time along the lines of “I love you so much, you make me feel sexy, I can’t wait till we try your fantasy”.

The guy, he looks up and I’m thinking “uh-oh, he knows I’m reading all his texts over his shoulder!” BUT he looks around for a minute then looks back down (not noticing me!) and types “yeah, I love you so much too. I can’t wait. There isn’t anyone on the train that meets our requirements. Maybe the next train.”

Um. Did I just read that right?!? This guy is trolling the morning commuter trains for other people to have sex with him and his wife?

Just goes to show, you never really know what your fellow commuters are thinking about (unless you read their text messages over their shoulders).

In hind sight I probably should have picked a random lady in the carriage, bent down to him and whisper whilst point at said lady “what about her, she seems nice”.

Normally I’m not one to judge others but wait a New York Minute here. Lady, you catch your husband cheating on you, and then you forgive him and indulge him in his fantasy of a 3way?
Fuck me! Not literally of course, but you know.
Either you’re a very understanding and forgiving woman or you need a backbone and perhaps someone to help you get some self-esteem back.

I understand that you love your husband, I get it, I love my husband too. But if I ever found out that he’s been having it off or had it off with another woman, you can bet your ass that I’d be signing divorce papers quicker than he could say his own name. (word of warning dear husband)

Once you’ve smashed someone’s trust it can never fully heal. It’s like smashing a tea cup. You can pick up the pieces and glue them back together, but it’ll never be fully fixed. There will always be bits that have gone forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A marriage has to have trust, in fact, so does every friendship, otherwise how do you expect it to work?

So my question today is; Ladies, if you found out that your husband/partner/boyfriend/wife was having an affair with someone else, what would you do? Would you end your relationship, or would you hold on to your man/woman with both hands and indulge his/her fantasies.

But wait, I have a second question, for you Men; Men, do you really use commuter trains to find sex buddies? If so, how do you approach someone? How do you approach an absolute stranger and ask them if they want to have sex with you and your wife.

 

Fatal Effects

This evening someone felt the need to end their life. Underneath the wheels of a train.
I don’t know what was happening in that persons life that made them feel like there was no other option but suicide, but whatever it was, it causes my heart to ache.
I understand depression all too well. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing the battle, sometimes I feel like I’ve conquered it, but mostly I feel like I’m doing ok. I’m very lucky to have a very supportive husband and doctor, unfortunately that’s not the case for some people.
But this post isn’t about that.

Tonight someone in my twitter feed asked this question.

 

 

 

Majority of people (myself included) responded. The common answer from everyone that responded was pretty much this – “No, it’s disrespectful

I REALLY do not understand WHY someone would do such a thing. Normally when an incident such as this occurs there are a lot of unhappy people because they have been delayed through no fault of their own. Some people are so unhappy that they tweet things like this;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have purposefully removed the user names from these tweets, although really I should have left them in and let you all descend on them like a pack of rabid wolves with a deer carcass, for obvious reasons.

Why? Are these people really that selfish and uncompassionate? Whatever happened to being empathetic?

I’m issuing you a challenge. The next time your train is delayed because of a fatality, before you complain about being delayed, or having to be squashed on to a train, or not having a seat, or being stuck on a train or for whatever reason, THINK.

Think about that person being your mother, father, sister, brother, child, best friend. Think about the people who were minding their own business and then witnessing something such as that. Think about the driver of that train, think about what he or she see’s when that person jumps or falls and is killed. Think about the fact that someone, somewhere will shortly be opening the door to two police officers asking if they can “come in” and then being told that their loved one has been killed.

Just for 1 minute THINK. Just for 1 minute of YOUR life have some COMPASSION for a fellow human being who has just DIED.

Suicide doesn’t just affect your journey home or your journey to meet friends for a night out. Look at the bigger picture. It affects the driver of that train. It affects the people who witnessed it. It affects the police officers and the emergency services workers who have to attend the scene. It affects that persons friends and family and co-workers.

I’m going to leave you with a story, told to me by a friend, who just so happens to be a train driver.

One day he was driving his train when all of a sudden there was a huge bang and a sudden splatter of blood on his windscreen. He hadn’t been driving trains on his own all that long and his heart hammered away in his throat for a millesecond before he realised he had hit a pigeon and that was what had exploded on the front of his train.

A pigeon weighs approximately 1lb. An adult human being weighs between 130lbs and 220 lbs (on average). Now image what would happen if you threw something of that weight in front of a moving train.

The next time you’re delayed because someone didn’t think they had any other option in life but to die under a train, think of that story.

 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please do not think there isn’t another option. There is. It may not seem like there is help out there or that there are people willing to help, to listen or to lend a hand, but there is. Please get in touch with the Samaritans or with Mind. Please don’t end your life. There are people in this world who care.