Photography Turret

Target lost!


It was rush hour, but there was that one empty seat on the train. The man sped up and managed to beat another man to it, sitting down with relief and a slight feeling of pride that he could still sprint like that. His legs ached. In fact, his whole body ached in places he did not even know he could feel pain – that had been a particularly difficult day at work: his boss had been in a fouler mood than usual, two of his colleagues had called in sick and the work load had gone up, but the deadlines stayed the same. He’d had to work extra hours, which meant his wife would get into yet another argument with him when he got home and he could just not deal with another one of those. He could not see himself getting a higher position at work anytime soon, or a pay rise, and the bills just kept piling up. He was a failure. Good for nothing. His head was spinning. He was just too tired of all of that. As the train doors closed and he felt the familiar jolt that meant he was going home, he allowed his body and brain to relax. He still had eight more stops to go. Maybe he could even have a little snooze.

As his started to nod off, barely aware of the backwards movement his head was making towards the train window where it would rest, the next stop came. A woman rushed to catch the packed train and jumped on just in time. She looked around. No seats. Obviously! She sighed, exhausted, and pushed her way through the crowd to the other side of the car, finding that the nearest empty(ish) place where she could stand somewhat comfortably was right next to the sleeping man.


She envied him. Her day had been horrible! She’d had all sorts of crisis at work, having to sort out problems that weren’t even hers to begin with and then getting blamed anyway when things went wrong. On top of that, her boyfriend had broken up with her, saying he’d fallen for another woman, right in the middle of her shift, where she couldn’t even allow herself to be angry or cry. Now she had to deal with all of the hassle of finding a new place to live, move out of his place and watch him show off his new girl in the time it took her to sort out all of her life and move out. She’d had a boyfriend do that to her before, and she’d never thought that kind of thing would happen again – was it her? She didn’t want to go through that one more time. It was just too much! She just wanted to crawl up into a little ball under her duvet and cry herself to sleep, but she still had the train journey and the walk home to get through – and that just reminded her that her shoes were so uncomfortable it felt like her feet were about to disintegrate. Her legs started to shake and she could feel the tears trying to escape. She focused all of her energy into keeping it together and rested her head against the train wall.


The man woke up, just to check that he hadn’t missed his stop yet. He looked around and saw the woman standing next to him. She looked about to cry. He thought about it for a minute. “Nah,” – he thought. – “She’s not old, disabled or pregnant; I’m not obligated to give her my seat. I’m tired, man, my body hurts. Someone else can give her a seat if they want to.” He was about to let himself nod off again, when he gave her another glance. He could see a tear trying to escape her left eye. He thought for a second. We all have problems… maybe at that moment, hers was bigger than his. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much to offer.

“Excuse me, miss? Would you like to seat down?”

The woman looked surprised. No one else had offered that and she had never expected anyone to. Suddenly, that stranger’s kindness touched her and she felt a little bit better.

“That’s alright, sir. I get off at the next stop. But thank you very much for offering. I’ve had the most horrible of days and you’ve just restored my faith in the kindness of people.”

She might have been exaggerating a bit, but she did feel that way to some degree. And the man, as relieved as he was that he didn’t have to spend the next three stops on his feet, also felt a bit better that he had made a stranger smile and maybe made her horrible day a little bit less horrible. And with that thought, he also felt a bit better about himself. Maybe he wasn’t so worthless after all.

Consideration and thoughtfulness are not easy. They’re not always the most secure path. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zones to practice them, sometimes we need to make a few sacrifices that we’re not exactly willing to make at that moment, for the sake of someone else. But if we take that step, we might be doing much more for that person than we think. We might be helping someone who needs us so much more than we can imagine.

The thing with going out of our way to help someone else is that we might not always get a thank you. Or even know how much of a difference it made. But I, personally, try to do that when I can. Because I know that every single time someone has showed me consideration and gone out of their way to help me in an hour of need, it made a huge difference to me.


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This entry was posted on August 25, 2013 by in Life and other musings... and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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