Given the chance, would you…

…trip someone over, or … Help them stand?

Visiting London, this question comes up a lot. Just now, I was on a train where as we pulled into the station the driver announced that the train on the neighbouring platform was the Express train to same final destination; he encouraged passengers to run to the other platform, and promised to wait if the other train left too soon.

I was the first person to reach the other platform; just as I arrived, the other driver started the engines and slowly pulled away.

You might pass this off as coincidence, but I’ve seen it many times first hand from London transport Employees: they delight in fucking over as many people as they can. I’ve even been threatened by London Transport staff, and was too naive to realise their behaviour was illegal.

But on a smaller scale are all the ordinary citizens who passively aggressively respond to perceived slights by barging others as they enter or leave a tube train, or deliberately walk slowly and block the pavements and escalators. When I was one of them … In my mind, I was exacting petty revenge on the woman who barged everyone out of her way when entering the train, or the man who jammed his briefcase in the closing doors so theyd re open and let him in (delaying the train and risking breaking it in the process – I’ve been on London trains that were cancelled because of exactly this).

But some years ago I realised you have a choice at each such moment; two paths lie before you, each goes to the same destination, but the journey is markedly different, and will change you; which path would you prefer to be defined by?

I still resent the petty bastards like tonights train driver who watched people run to his train then pulled away at the last moment – perhaps I even resent them more, as I think about the escalating pyramid of misery and vindictiveness they cause – but it’s also mixed with a small measure of pity, that these sad people will probably never again be truly happy, too wrapped up in their schadenfreude over others.

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