Friday, May 5, 2017

Kindness is alive and well and can be found on a Virgin train.

Arrived at Euston station last night on our way back from Slovenia just too late to catch the fast train to warringon.  Instead of waiting an hour for the next one we decided to catch a slower train but which was leaving shortly.  It was a bad decision as by the time we were on board we realised that the unreserved seats were all taken and the carriages crowded and over full.
After struggling for a while I was finding it difficult to carry the suitcase any further through the train in the hope of a seat.
A young man, say mid thirties, saw our plight and offered to carry our suitcase back through the train to find a seat in the first class compartments  "I'll sort you something out " says he.  He led the way, pushing against the flow of people still trying to work their way forward in the forelorn hope of a nonexistent seat.
Eventually we got to an almost empty first class compartment and took a couple of seats and it was only then that we realised he was a passenger as well, not railway staff.

After the first stop the train conductor came along and we showed our tickets.  He said that we would have to leave the compartment or pay extra fare.  We were still too tired to argue and asked how much extra he wanted for us to remain where we were.  He said that it would be 80 pounds each which was more than we had paid for the return tickets in the first place.

The young man who had brought us along then intervened.  "That is ridiculous.  With all these empty seats why are you insisting that they go back along the train.  If they have to go, then you carry their bag.  I carried it here so I know how difficult I was for them."  The cunductor replied that their where now plenty of seats. The young man responded, "Well I have a reserved seat in the first carriage, before they move, perhaps you could go through to the front to see if my seat is unoccupied,"
There was just a little bit of edge coming into the conversation when another voice joined in.  A younger man seating with a female companion called out "I will pay for them".  He came forward with his wallet in his hand and " I can't believe that you are even thinking of asking this couple to move knowing how crowded the train is.  I saw haw this chap was helping them and it restores some of my faith in human nature.  So I will pay for all three."

I am normally a sentimental bloke but all this moved me to tears.

We did not hear how this ended.  It appeared that the conductor relented and moved on down the train without taking any money, but the magnificent gesture had been made.

No doubt the ticket collector has his job to do, but Virgin trains collect enough revenue to allow their staff some discretion on overcrowded trains.

We allowed our Samaritans to go without thanking them properly, but they know who they are and I think they know how grateful we were, not just for the assistance but for the generosity of spirit which inspired the gestures.