While I moan about the inconvenience of public transport, I have certainly learnt a lot about people just by simply observing what goes on around me on the train to and from work each day. And I tell you, some of the things I’ve learnt can be quite disheartening, in particular the way we as humans tend to just stay within our own bubbles, unwilling to give a hand to someone who clearly needs it.
For example, I’ve now encountered several incidents on the train where someone was very unwell but no one offered to help them or at least ask if they were OK.
One such incident involved a young high school girl who had just gotten off the train in the city. She was leaning against the wall, hand against her chest, looking very unwell and scared. People would give a look at her and just rush past, almost as if they were either scared that she would inconvenience them and make them late for work or she was just simply being dramatic. I personally couldn’t live with myself if I had just walked past her too so I rushed to get help. I’ll never forget the kind smiles on the faces of the transit officers as I left the station.
Another incident only happened today when a man sitting on the train near me was crouched over in agony, moaning. People were just staring at him, admittedly me included. Not being able to bear it anymore and realising no one was planning to approach him, I went up to him to see if he was OK. He insisted he was on his way to the doctor and would be OK, but I told him to just let me know if he wanted my help. When he got off at his stop, he turned back to me and simply said, “Thank you.”
Now to add a twist to this story, I have actually been sick on the train myself. One morning I was waiting for the train to work and I started to feel queasy but tried to shake it off. Yet 5 minutes into the trip, I threw up in my hands. I am sure somebody noticed – it was a full train travelling during peak hour – but nobody offered to help or ask if I was OK. I got off the train two stops later, bent over in the garden, embarrassed and crying and yet people just continued to walk past as if I wasn’t even there.
It was the worst feeling ever.
And that is why I can’t just walk away when someone is in need of help.
So I ask that if you ever find yourself in the situation where there is someone in your sight who looks unwell or seriously troubled, please do not be afraid to help them out. Yes approaching someone is scary. Yes it’s confronting. What if you don’t know what to do? What if you do the wrong thing? What if you get yourself into trouble? What if you’re late for work? What if you miss your train home? What if you’re late for your exam? What if the person is so badly injured or unwell that they die on you – how could you live with the memory? What if you have to get involved in a police investigation?
But what if you end up saving someone’s life? Or make someone’s day? Or at least make them feel better because someone took the time to care?
Put yourself in their position. How would you feel if you were the one crouched over in pain but no one came to help you?
Don’t be scared to step out of your bubble, to step away from your fear.
It’s been an interesting time what with the USA elections in particular and the constant calls from people to “overcome fear with love”.
Well my friends, overcoming fear starts in your own backyard.
Overcoming fear starts with helping out someone who needs it.
Note: Featured image from Pixabay.