Sunday, 20 September 2015

To the woman on the train

Author: Anonymous

To the woman on the train who was so aggressive to me for being sat in "her" seat....

You didn't really give me any chance to explain, and it's been bothering me since. So I will tell my side here in case one day you happen to read this.

It was Friday night and I was getting a train home. The train was packed and the train manager kept announcing that all reservations were cancelled, all tickets for all seats. I must have heard the announcement ten times. I sat down in the seat next to me. I put my earphones in and felt relieved to have a seat. The train filled up, there were no seats left, and people were standing.

You came along and told me that was your seat. My heart sank. I said I'm sorry, they'd announced it was all tickets for all seats and that reservations were cancelled. In my mind I was working out what to do. I would normally just apologise and get straight up, but I didn't know if I physically had the energy to stand for over an hour's train journey.

Unfortunately you didn't give me any chance to explain. You instantly got aggressive and started raising your voice at me. Everyone around was staring. I wanted to cry. Not only do I hate confrontation but I didn't want to announce to the whole carriage that I was desperate for a seat because the treatment I have just gone through for cancer means sometimes all it takes is to get up and have a shower before I feel exhausted enough to return to bed again.

Your aggression was also pretty intimidating. I didn't actually know what to say. You left the carriage but not before shouting at me. The women sat opposite me shouted back at you, and when you were gone I explained to them that I just really needed the seat, I was exhausted, I'd just had a lot of cancer treatment and it had taken it out of me. They were really kind.

A few minutes later a member of train staff came and told me to move. I started to get up - I wasn't in any way inclined to argue the case, while I didn't know if I had the energy to stand, I knew I certainly didn't have the energy for a fight. All around me people started chiming in. Telling the woman that they had been announcing on the loudspeakers continuously it was all tickets for all seats and reservations were cancelled. Telling me to stay put in my seat, I shouldn't have to move. But I got up, and went to the other end of the carriage, and spent the next hour and twenty minutes leaning against the toilet door. There wasn't even room to sit on the floor it was so crowded. At one point I nearly fell because I'd actually started to fall asleep standing up.

I got home, and I cried.

Two days later I've cancelled popping round to a friend's house for a cup of tea and a catch up. I still don't have the energy to leave the house.

Perhaps next time someone is sat in a seat that you believe to be yours, you could consider whether they might actually really need it. Perhaps you could ask if they really need it, give them a chance to explain at least before starting to shout at them. There are lots of illnesses and disabilities that aren't visible. Just because someone isn't very elderly, or obviously heavily pregnant, or have their leg in a plaster cast - it doesn't mean that there is nothing wrong with them.

My body has been destroyed this last year, by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, endless drugs... and that's just the treatment. The cancer has an impact too. I'm tired. I'm in pain. All I wanted to do was sit down. I did not deserve to be shouted at like that.

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