The train had arrived early in Leeds in spite of Snowmageddon. Our management had told people to leave early in case of travel problems, with a predicted 15cm of snow across the Pennines which would inevitably cause difficulties for those travelling more than a few yards from Leeds City Centre. I left at my planned time and the train arrived early. It hadn’t read the memo, or, indeed, the weather forecast, and had crossed the Pennines in excellent time.
At York we sat outside the station for a long time, trapped as two other not-very-useful Engines gossiped idly on platform 5. We imagined them stamping their wheels and rubbing their fenders to keep warm, sheltered snugly under the Victorian roof and thinking little, caring less, for Engines which had arrived early or kept to their timetable.
“We’re waiting for two other trains to move so we can come in on Platform 5,” the conductor announced, keen to demonstrate his frustration and lack of culpability. We were all in it together alright.
The minutes crawled by, slow in the frozen wind, and we waited. There was sighing and tutting and raising of eyebrows. None of them achieved a forward momentum. I played Sudoku on my phone. It didn’t seem worth calling home where Sigoth was snuggling and thinking of dinner. Other passengers however chose to share their outrage with loved ones, and many conversations ensued along the lines of “I’m stuck outside York now, we’re waiting for a platform.” It was generally followed by a character-defining pronouncement of either “hopefully not long now” or “probably be ages, bloody trains”.
Eventually another trian strolled past heading north.
“That’s the culprit!” the conductor told us. “Feel free to gesticulate as he goes by!”
And everyone laughed. Some of us waved, ironically I’m sure. People turned to their neighbours and smiled and agreed it was good to have a conductor with a sense of humour. We felt warm and companionable, thanks to a single quip. Onward, fellow travellers!
One man made everyone’s miserable, cold, frustrating journey better. How easy it is to share a little joy, if only we remember to try.