Public Tragedy

The other day I was riding along on the train. I had spent quite a number of hours riding on buses and trains in order to have a quick ten minute meeting (which felt really pointless.) I was standing up on a particularly busy train, when all of a sudden there was a big bump and the train came to a rather an abrupt stop.

I thought for a second, that the train might have ran over an animal. Then I thought that would be quite sad and hoped it wouldn’t be the case. The conductor gave an announcement and said he was going to ask the driver why they had suddenly stopped. I heard a few people tutting and sighing. A few seconds later, the conductor gave another announcement and revealed that somebody had been run over.

I was pretty shocked, because I never could have imagined that that would be what had happened. The idea that the train I had been riding on had caused the death of somebody was very sad. The thought that somebody had died a few feet away from me and that I knew more about it than the actual people who cared about them was even more distressing.

Over the next hour or so the train stood still as the emergency services arrived and did their best to get the person out from under the train. This was something that was very unpleasant to experience – but what I found even worse, was the response of the other people on the train.

People were complaining and moaning about how it would personally cause them some minor inconveniences – mostly along the lines of being late home and feeling tired. Others were taking photos of the emergency service people to post on their social media accounts. Some of them were even making extremely tasteless jokes about it. None of them were talking seriously about the tragedy that is the loss of human life.

While riding on a train that ran somebody over alone would have been a saddening experience, all of the people on the train made it much, much worse.  Their total lack of compassion was something I found very disturbing. Is that how self-absorbed the average person really is? No, is the answer I need myself to believe. A good friend of mine told me that the other people were probably putting on a front because they were very upset and I hope that they were right.

After the emergency services had left, the conductor announced that the person had survived and was taken to hospital. This, at least, got a mild cheer from the crowd. I didn’t really think it was very good news though, because I wondered how long somebody would really survive after that. I remember thinking in the evening, how awful they must feel – both physically and emotionally. When I checked the news, I found they had indeed died shortly after. I hope that the rest of the passengers checked. I hope that they cared.

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