rants

by 3.1

After another shift on the Night Tube, I had to extricate myself from the relative comfort of the air conditioning yesterday afternoon in order to push through a few chores I’d set myself in order to re-align myself for the rest of the week, though thankfully the temperature wasn’t as intense as Saturday.

Had to go down to the Earl’s Court Farmers’ Market to pick up a few goodies for my supper later on as I’d bagged myself another bargain with the Too Good To Go app. As Patch is still away and on tour with the Cricket World Cup happenings, I have scaled down my usual cooking operations at home, opting for the cheap eats offered in the app that suit the timings for when I’m at work (or just leaving). It has been nice to take a break from cooking, but obviously I’ll be glad to get back into it again once Patch is home as my Abel & Cole subscription has been on hold until then and it’d be nice to get back to that.

From Earl’s Court, it was back on the Piccadilly line up to Russell Square. I had to drop my uni quickly for something, before making my way down the MUJI on Tottenham Court Road to pick up an order of stuff (notably, a new jinbei). Walked all the way back to Russel Square whilst listening to a (very slowly-spoken) Japanese news podcast and walked past the new yakiniku restaurant on Southampton Row to pop in to say hello. I had decided to avoid watching the England v India fixture, not because I didn’t want to watch it, but I don’t think my nerves could handle whatever would come at the end. As it goes, on my way home from Russell Square, I became aware of the outcome by the time I was on the bus home in Patch’s family WhatsApp group.

As for now, I’m plodding through some paperwork for work, before I head to uni for another lecture. I’ve not been enjoying this module all that much as it’s a cultures module I’ve had to take in order to make the credits for my degree add up, but much like the Rethinking Japan module I took last year, Reading Transnational Cultures is just another module full of white academics lecturing a (mostly) non-white class (many of whom have ethnic backgrounds from nations that were colonised and/or sold into slavery) on how bad colonialism and ‘Americanisation’ really is. My parents are from a country that has suffered under the hands of Americans, resulting in a weird culture that now tries to emulate aspects of American life, so I’m finding this last module really tedious. It almost runs in tandem with someone at work getting moved from their previous workplace for being a dick; all of a sudden they’re woke AF because of the experience, furnishing themselves with literature &c., &c. or trying to advocate. It’s weird and creepy, especially when you look at the timescale. And guess what their ethnic background is? Yeah.

I’ve grown weary of the process that is supposed to remove people like this from our ranks and other workplaces that are supposed to be all about the image of diversity that they peddle out to the public. Thankfully, these weirdos used to be in the minority, but I feel that the way things are at the moment has given them excuse to come out or behave in a certain way. As previously mentioned, they’re either moved from one place to another, or they are offered the chance to resign/retire, as in the case of one individual at my previous location after the announcement of the EU Referendum (one person thought it was okay to tease/taunt our lovely cleaner from Bulgaria once the results were out). And let’s not forget the other guy who thought it was okay to grab my bum and then racially abuse a load of people I worked with at the time. Maybe all these weird and creepy individuals should be forced to sit through a three-hour lecture on colonialism and white power structures instead of me. I could go on as to how the dynamic between people at work has changed since the EU Referendum, as well as what it’s like to be a person of colour born and raised in London and how life has changed and how awkward it all feels/how you’re expected to feel by the people that try to harass you (who then, somewhat ironically, cry of harassment from you), but I’d be here all day. These people need to sit down, be quiet and learn from their experiences.

Anyhow, over the next few weeks, as part of my current work, I’ll be learning the Central line, which will bring me up to four lines under my belt by the time I’ve finished all of that. Not sure how I feel about going somewhere where the rolling stock is even more ropey than something from the early ‘70s, but needs must. I just hope that the temperatures ease for my driving days so that it doesn’t feel like I’m driving into a blast furnace (or worse still, so it doesn’t feel like I’m driving a moving blast furnace).

Seven Minutes by 3.1

Ever since the one under, I’ve never felt so tired, and now that I have all this time off to recover, it doesn't matter how much sleep I get, but I wake up feeling groggy and like I’ve not slept at all. Everybody is telling me that this is all completely normal. Tomorrow morning, I have my first round of counselling, so naturally I’m churning through everything in my brain like a well-played VHS, because I want to be able to say what happened from start to finish all in one hit and then go from there, because I’m guessing that when I sit down the counsellor is going to say something clichéd like, “Tell me what happened,” or, “Start from the beginning,” so I basically just want to go into auto-pilot...

[Sit comfortably in chair. Take a deep breath – say it all in one breath.]

“On Wednesday 5th October 2016, a woman jumped in front of my train at Wembley Park. The train comes to a stop approximately halfway down the platform. The time is 15:07 – I had been on duty for all of 18 minutes and I had been on the train for all of 7 minutes.”

[Breathe.]

Seven whole fucking minutes. For fuck’s sake, I mean really – I sat down last night and said to myself that if I tell it that way, they’re going to think I’m being evasive or not wanting to open up or explore emotions, when really I want to put my first through a wall because I’m so angry. So last night, I sat down on the sofa after S had gone to bed and decided that I was going to write a report about what happened. I wrote this report in one sitting to the tune of around 17,000 words, finishing at around 2am this morning. It has every single possible detail that I can remember, from the sound of my keys jingling in my pocket, to the haunting look a bus driver gave me when he was walking up the stairs at Wembley Park during the emergency detrainment, along with conversations that I had to have and things that had been said whilst I was in the room.

I was thinking about whether or not to change everyone's names and publish my report here, but I figured that most people don't really want to hear about how a British Transport Police officer had to drag me into the Waiting Room on the platform because I was in such a state of distress, never mind the other things. It's just over 17,000 words of fine detail about a 45-minute period of time that cannot and will not change, no matter how or where I write it. Funnily enough, the Trainman’s Report that I emailed to my manager the morning after the incident was only 457 words long – one side of A4 – and that’s a relatively short report from me. He didn’t ask me for one, but I insisted that I send him one anyway (in fact, I was quite insistent, and I said, “I may as well – because when I got home I thought you might ask for a memo anyway, and so I wrote it all down when I got home whilst it was still fresh in my mind.”). When my close friends have asked me to tell them what happened, I generally offer the Trainman’s Report version, as 457 words means that it is a version offered without embellishment, any real detail or emotion; because you see, when I tell the story that way, I don’t really feel anything, but it seems to generate more of a shock-horror reaction from them if I offer them that version than if I were to offer them the 17,000 words.

Anyway, I’m keeping myself open-minded about the whole counselling thing, but I find I'm having to remind myself that the person I will be speaking to will not have all the answers, especially to questions like:

  1. What was The Lady’s name?
  2. How old was The Lady?
  3. Where is The Lady from?
  4. Does The Lady have any family?
  5. Why did she hesitate?

And the big question (that comes in two parts):

Was The Lady’s actions a result of:

a. long-term mental health issues?
b. short-term/recent circumstances?

What a head-fuck. I mean, really. Why would I want to know these things? Well, it’s strange you ask me that, because for whatever reason, I feel that I can't move on without knowing more. Because my Trainman’s Report version of events feels so unfinished – it’s like I need an epilogue that says something along the lines of:

The person involved in the incident was called Mary Maybe, a retired teacher from Surrey. She is 54. She has no children. THE END.

It feels better having that little bit at the end. I don’t like that I don’t know her name. I don’t like that I don’t know anything about her. The Lady has involved me in her decision to take action, knowing full well that when she made eye contact with me at that precise moment in time I was the driver of the train, yet I don’t know a single thing about her. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

After I had written my 17,000-word report last night, I went to bed. I dreamed for the first time in ages. This is a big thing for me, because ever since the incident, I have not been able to have any dreams, and I always find that I wake up feeling very rested after having a dream because my dreams are always so vivid – I used to dream almost every day, so it felt good to wake up this morning, even though I had only been asleep for around 6 hours. I normally remember most of my dreams, and though I can't remember the one I had this morning, it doesn't really matter.

Lots of people have reached out to me since that day. I wrote a letter to say thank you to everyone, even though I haven't been able to respond to every single message. It has been really helpful to hear from members of the #RailwayFamily who have had similar incidents before, because it has helped me put some of the feelings and thoughts into context, as well as the behavioural and cognitive disturbances (because at the moment, I don’t actually realise that I’m getting aggressive or frustrated with someone or something – it comes on quite quickly, and my GP says it's just as a result of being irritable/tired, and a typical post-traumatic response).

As I said in my letter:

Everyone is telling me to take my time, but it’s really hard when time doesn’t feel consistent.

That still rings true, but perhaps tomorrow I can start putting some of the clocks right.