What would you do if you see an old man sitting on a floor in the crowded train embracing his sleeping granddaughter protectively?
Don’t you just hate it when train commuters don’t give up their seats to people who need them more? Don't you just hate it when you as fellow train commuters who are standing at the vicinity did nothing about it? Heck, not even to snap a photo to substantiate this post which I doubt can help raising awareness of doing the right thing even when the rest did no such thing? Heh. (Then again, no way I'm starting another hooha like the recent "'Tired' MRT commuter slammed for refusing to give up reserved seat").
This is based on a true story. Happened this afternoon. At AMK station, I embarked on a train at East-West Line towards Jurong. The train door opened, I stepped in, and immediately and swiftly sidestepped towards my right. Because at my left, by the entrance of the door, there was this old man--possibly at his 60s--SITTING ON THE FLOOR embracing a little girl--possibly his granddaughter likely 5 or 6 years old--who's deep in her sleep oblivious to her surroundings. (No, he was not sleeping himself even though I couldn't really tell as his glasses hid his eyes from where I was standing.)
What followed next were a series of thoughts in my mind.
One: Hmm...the nearest reserved seat was occupied by a sleeping woman. Is this sleeping woman the mother of the sleeping little girl? Hmm...
Two: The opposite of that reserved seat was another reserved seat (obviously if you're a train commuter) being occupied by a fully able bodied boy (9 years old or 10 years old?) with his father. Chance to get this seat given up to the old man? Nil. Just opposite the boy were a father standing with a baby secured on his chest by use of a baby carrier & besides him was the mother. Both of them were not visibly distressed even though they were not offered the reserved seat & made the most of the journey with the mother making some cute baby sounds to the baby. If the fully able bodied boy did not even give up the seat to the father who was standing much closer to him, what's the chance he'd give up the seat to the old man? Yeah, nil.
Three: The crowds were formed surrounding the old man & his sleeping granddaughter. Sympathy thickly oozed. Yet none of them did anything to intervene, to make effort to win a seat to the old man. Or what if the effort was made in the journey before the train reached AMK station? Possible. So why should I try to get him a seat? I shamefully attempted to justified my inaction.
Four: None of the crowds was taking a photo of other users of the reserved seats who being full able bodied themselves should have given up the seats instead of falling to deep sleep and creating such unpleasant & awkward situation to the rest of (standing) commuters who might mentally be transmitting a message to one another: "WHY DON'T YOU DO ANYTHING?! YES, YOU. YOU ARE CLOSER WHAT!"
Five: Uhm...Five? OK. I forgot five.
Oh yes. The train stopped. It reached Yishun station and the old man attempted to stand up. Imagine the difficulty as the granddaughter was still asleep. Finally there was a man (in his late 40s or early 50s?) who offered to carry the little girl while the old man stood up and he helped the old man by carrying his granddaughter walking down the nearest staircase to leave the train platform.
Six: Better shadow this man. If he ran away with the little girl, there would be nothing the old man could do. You see the old man was left rather behind as the other man carrying the little girl down the staircase to the exit. So I did shadow them.
Seven: Phew. No kidnapping. Shame on me to even have that thought against the good samaritan. The man handed over the little girl to the old man outside the passenger service counter.
Still observing from a distance (am I a potential stalker? Sigh) I saw the old man sitting nearby the counter and making a phone call. Caught him saying something about how he's already in the Yishun MRT station.
And then I walked away wondering the reason why the old man was with his granddaughter in the train. Why was she so tired and she fell asleep all the way during the train journey and still asleep when she was carried by the good samaritan down the staircase.
I walked away perfectly sure myself that I did the correct thing by not taking photos of those sleeping full able bodied commuters. (So what if this post is considered a fiction?).
I walked away completely ashamed of myself of failing to do the right thing to ensure the old man was able to keep his dignity by sitting rightfully at the reserved seat in the train and not on the floor.
Treat this post as a fiction if you wish, but ask yourself if you're in my shoe, what would you do differently?
PS. It was about 3:40 PM when I left the Yishun station walking to the nearest bus station. As per now (8:50 PM) when I last checked STOMP, there was nothing mentioned about this incident.