On [not] helping

I spent a lot of yesterday getting on and off trains.

I love the freedom of county tickets and days off – the freedom to do exactly what I want, where I want to do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Each time I realised the current plan wasn’t going to work, I changed it, checking the timetables in the stations and on my phone as needed.

I took my time over breakfast, looking at churches, letting the dried fruit salesman persuade me to buy horrendous amounts of ginger, walking through town, perusing the postcard stands and eating local sausages from a street market stall.

Overall, everything worked out well, but I ended up waiting for half an hour on a semi-desolate platform in a fairly small town / large village.

A Turkish guy asked me in very broken German if I could help him work out which trains to catch across most of southern Germany to Munich. He’d got a ticket, but had missed the train he was supposed to get, and was a little bit out of his depth.

I’ve been stranded on enough platforms with little or no idea which train to catch or how to read the timetable or what all the abbreviations mean, to know how helpless it makes you feel. Even if you speak the language it’s tough in a strange place.

I’ve also been helped by more people than I can remember. People who have helped me figure out what sort of train (local, regional, national, express) I’m allowed on to with which ticket, which buttons to press to get the machine to talk to me, where to punch the ticket before getting on the train, how to get to the platform I need, …….


My phone battery survived just long enough to look up a connection for him and write it on the back of an envelope. We figured out which platform he needed and all was good. He phoned his German speaking supervisor (he was supposed to be meeting them, but was running late) and asked me to tell them we’d sorted things out and that he was on his way but was going to be there later than previously arranged.

In the middle of the phone call, an elderly-ish gentleman came up and demanded to know where he was headed, he picked up some of what I was telling the supervisor and proceeded to read him the timetable, loudly, jabbing his finger at the board and asking if he ‘couldn’t even read’. (The fact that the timetable only tells you the end destination and maybe 30% of the stops (per journey) was irrelevant. As was the fact that he needed to change trains a couple of times).

I finished the call, already irritated that he had talked at me throughout most of it (can’t stand that!), whereupon he told me he’d watched the guy miss the train he needed twice.

Twice, when the train goes once an hour, means he’s been watching him for two hours.


What’s with that???

What could make a person spend two hours sitting on a platform watching a foreigner miss multiple trains???

And then, having spent two hours being remarkably unhelpful, what would make them decide to get involved once the situation’s already been resolved???

I really really don’t understand some people.

0 thoughts on “On [not] helping

  1. Mmmm…. I believe there might be a club for that as many people seem to belong to it. Many of us are hard for the rest of us to understand and vice-versa, but isn’t it great that there are some of us {you, inn this instance} than ARE helpful and DO understand other people’s needs and try to give aid when aid is needed.Bless you for that!

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
      I think you might be right about the club too, it seems pretty popular… There’s a saying here: “everyone is a stranger/foreigner somewhere, some people are idiots/antisocial everywhere…”

  2. You are a good and kind soul. Helping a stranded person out and giving back in the same form as had been kindly given to you. As for the cantankerous busy body, there are those among us that think the worst of those not directly related to them. You were able to serve as a balm to the old coots bluster.

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