This morning I almost missed the train to work. It would have been a bad day to turn up late. Half a dozen colleagues flew into town for a meeting that was due to start at 9 am sharp. I speed-dressed myself and ran out the door. When I got to the Underground, the train had just left and the platform was empty. The only other person was a young guy who walked in when I did. For some reason, his coat caught my attention. It was nothing out of the ordinary. A few minutes we were still waiting for the train, and the platform was really busy. Most of the commuters were standing or sitting near me, by the entrance. My eyes were drawn to the far end of the platform. The train was due to enter the station from a tunnel on that side. The guy in the black coat stood close to the ledge. He kept leaning into the tunnel.
The image freaked me out, and my 1st thought was Don't Do It!
I read a fiction book where the main character throws herself under a train. What a shock to the system! I couldn't stomach the thought of that happening in real life. For a split second I wondered if it was a warning, or just my paranoia. If he'd been closer, I would have asked for the time and engaged him in small talk. What are you supposed to do in these situations? By then, the train was one minute away. So I could pray, or run down the platform in his direction. I went for the 1st option, visualising a pair of concrete boots anchoring him to the platform. He didn't jump. Phew! It did make me wonder, how far would I go to help a stranger?
I was left feeling a bit ridiculous. I think I'm paranoid because of a previous experience that I still need to heal from. Once upon a time, I saw a man get hit by a car. It was 8 years ago. I was having lunch in a cute cafe in Washington DC. Our table faced the windows on the street. A pedestrian stepped onto the street in front of me. He was looking to his right, and a delivery van backed into him from the left. They didn't see each other. That was a horrible moment. I thought about the futility of trying to stop it. Then I got up, started pounding on the window, and screamed at him to look left. My friends thought I was crazy, until the car hit him and a commotion broke out in the street. Thankfully, the car was moving slowly and the man walked away from it a few minutes later (though it did knock him down).
The anticipation nearly did me in. I hadn't thought about it until today, and I think this guy at the tube station pushed my buttons. He looked perfectly calm when he stepped onto the train. It was just my nerves that were rattled ...