Wednesday 29 July 2009

A girl crying on a train

I saw a girl crying on a train this morning.

When she sat down opposite me I immediately felt a chill go up my back. Something in the severity with which he hair was pulled back form her face and the way she looked into her i-pod screen like it was a lake told me something was the matter.

Of course the standard commuter reaction to any sign of emotion is to ignore it completely and look busy. So busy I looked; I attended my own MP3 player, I moved my paper, I checked my phone and I read a few pages of my book.

The sun shone quite brightly (bizarrely for this year I know) and I put my sunglasses on; they gave me an extra shield and when I looked up again I could see that where the girl had rubbed her eyes tears were rolling down her cheeks.

She stopped crying almost immediately and shuffled the songs on her i- pod. You feel so helpless when you see a stranger cry, you want to help but you don't know what's the matter and you don't know them at all. Of course they don't want to be crying in public or for you to see them. All I could do was to try and smile kindly but it didn't really feel like enough.


Marie said...

That's such a beautiful post. And yes it's hard to know what to do so the default is nothing at all.

Tania said...

I've been her - haven't we all at some point? For me, it was a death in the family, and when I was overcome with sorrow in public, I just wanted to be left alone. So that's what I do if I see someone crying in public. If there's something wrong which I might be able to help with - they are hurt, or distressed because they've been robbed, or something similar - then I'm in like Flynn. But with silent weepers, I think the kindest thing one can do is pretend not to see. So you did the right thing, Rose.

Rose said...

Marie- Thank you. It really is hard to just ignore someone being upset but I think that's what she wanted.

Tania- Yes I've been her too- well I got off the train but started crying as I walked. That was also a family issue. I agree you do want to be left alone but kind looks can help, or the kindness not to look I should say! Thanks I hope I did do the right thing.

Jayne said...

That was a lovely post. I think everyone has been her at some time in their life, and that you did the right thing. A kind smile goes a very long way.

Rose said...

Hi Jayne- Thank you. It's true a kind smile is a wonderful thing.