On the tube on Sunday, I noticed an old/age-challenged lady/woman/dear/person (is there a PC term? I guess I should probably say ‘woman’ rather than ‘lady’ but most seem to prefer ‘lady’ so we’ll refer to her affectionately as the ‘Old Lady’ henceforth) standing as I went to grab a seat, I was about to offer her my seat when I realised there was one next to me so I just shuffled over and offered her my original one. A chap helpfully moved her bag for her and she thanked us both.
At the next stop, another old lady (let’s call her: ‘Old Lady 2′) got on further down my carriage. A woman a few seats up from me offered her seat. The fellow opposite her told her to keep her seat and he would give up his. (I know, right?! The carriage of philanthropy!) Anyway, my Old Lady said “That’s good, isn’t it? People offering their seats. It’s kind.” I murmured my assent and then got a bit emotional about the word ‘kind’, as you do when it’s uttered by an Old Lady about something that, really, she has a right to take for granted.
The Old Lady and I stood to get off at Liverpool Street, given she was accessorised by both a walking stick and a bag, I offered to help her off the tube. She declined – probably wise given I was looking my usual precarious self whilst wielding a suitcase, bag and a shopper (a large bag, not ‘Noun 1. One who visits stores in search of merchandise or bargains’ that would be silly). No-one else offered to help her.
She then struggled up some stairs whilst (presumably) able-bodied people hustled past her . No-one offered to help her. All the way I was reflecting on ‘kind’ versus ‘To be honest, it’s just the fecking least you can do.’
So much falls into this category – stuff which costs us bugger all in time/effort/money/inconvenience but which someone else will benefit from and see as a kindness. Shouldn’t we all be looking for these opportunities? Doing as the man did in the Old Lady 2 scenario and actually competing for the right to do a tiny bit of good. My Old Lady should have been fighting us all off going up those stairs – one of us should have carried her bag, another her stick (actually perhaps that’s not advisable, taking someone’s stick) and another taking her arm and guiding her up.
Why don’t we all do this? Every time. Even when it is a little bit inconvenient. Even when we do have an armful of baggage or Life Crap to deal with ourselves.
It should be an international sport: The Helpful Games, if you will.
Shall we try? I’m game if you are.
The Cool Ending
So back to the stairs… I was keeping an eye on her whilst I did my three-bag shuffle up the stairs and then as we both made it to the top, I saw/heard her lean against the wall next to the top of the stairs. I walked on several paces and then thought I ought to check she was OK. I turned around and she’d vanished.
I stood (like annoying person who doesn’t understand station etiquette) and looked left and right and possibly up and down too and she was nowhere to be seen.
*Twilight Zone music*