Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Strangers On A Train

I have spent a rather pointless afternoon battling the vagaries of a banking call centre, which proved to be as lengthy as it was irritating..In between huffing and puffing at faceless jobsworths, I almost forgot that Albert needed his inoculation boosters, so after bundling him into the berlingo, I popped up to the vets.

As it turned out the vet was running late ( it is a rural surgery) so I had to wait, and as I sat there I struck up conversation with a woman who had been booked into the slot after  me. The woman had brought an over weight and rather cheerful Labrador to be seen, whose name, she informed me, was Winston.
Winston, she added had a bit of a nervous "tummy"
My companion, was a garrulous old soul. Within a few minutes, she had told me that she was a retired legal secretary, that she had recently been hospitalised for suspected gallstones and that her niece had recently obtained a doctorate in some high flying subject over in the States.
She didn't think much about the Christmas Television schedules, though quite enjoyed "Downton Abbey" and was fed up with the increasing number of fireworks that were set off by people on the "Estate" when the New Year was welcomed in.
Winston had been with her for three years  and she also had at cat at home called Frank or Franks....... and after those facts were shared I think I started to glaze over just a little.......
But she just kept on spouting.
The Stephen Lawrence case was discussed, her niece's slightly disastrous love life was touched upon and even the merits of cranberry juice for "bladder probs" was thrown into the mix.... and even though I sort of enjoyed our conversation, the sight of the vet hurrying into the surgery was a very welcomed sight

With Albert tucked under my arm, I said my goodbyes, and the woman beamed at me, holding up Winston's paw up in a jaunty wave!!

"oh I have enjoyed our chat" she said and with just a hint of sadness in her voice, she added candidly
"Do you know you are the first person I have spoken to properly since December the 18th"

I gave her a brave sort of smile ,and  suddenly felt like crying.... and I wondered who she chatted to over two weeks ago


49 comments:

  1. I think I might cry now, too! You must have really made her week.

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  2. It is so humbling to realize how randomly and unintentional our own actions can affect someone's life. A lovely and valuable reminder that we often make a difference to our fellow humanity without knowing what we do and I thank you for sharing ...

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  3. Oh, I feel awful! So glad you chatted with her and didn't stare at the posters for flea meds, counted the ceiling tiles, read an article on scour...
    Jane x

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  4. Me too. And I'll bet you're glad you were tolerant. I once had a fortune cookie that really hit home. I think it's originally attributed to Plato.

    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

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  5. That's a wonderful tale. It might make me a little more patient in future.

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  6. Your tolerant and accepting nature wins out again. Such a simple thing, letting an old gal natter on for a bit, and look how happy it made her. Good for you, John.

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  7. The Universe sends us on some funny missions, doesn't it John? I had one today too.

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  8. There's a lot of lonely people out there John. Glad you made her day.

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  9. Poor old dear. I'm sure you're glad you didn't cut her off.

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  10. Oh that's a touching post, John. That dear lady sure is lonely. Poor soul. Glad you were kind enough listen to her. Bless you! Jo

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  11. I've had these kinds of conversations before, and my worry is that sometime I will be this lady...I've no doubt you cheered her, and made her day.



    PS: I'm glad the card arrived--I wondered if I'd gotten the address right. But I did not expect to get one from you, I sent one to you, just because I thought you'd like it... :-)

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  12. I saw an item on TV that said some people dont speak to another human being for a week at this time of year especially. Its an awful thought. xxxx

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  13. You made her day...good on ya !
    I once had an older gentleman call on the telephone, extremely early in the AM 5:30 to be precise. Wrong number, but the next day it happened again, and again, despite trying to explain he keeps dialing his wrong number, he continued...
    In the end, he confessed to being lonely , his wife has recently passed, he dialed my number by mistake, he said I was kind, and he liked my voice, and needed someone to say 'good morning' to.
    I later discovered he was 98 years old, and had no relatives.
    I'm glad you offered an ear, even though it ended up a bit too much ;)
    Hugs,
    ~Jo

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  14. I can see myself in that, John, and my oxy guy. Sometimes when DH works out of town - it can be weeks before I see a live, in person, body! I must sound like a blithering idiot, and I can't seem to stop myself.

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  15. We call them batty old folk.

    Wouldn't you go slowly insane bereft of all but the most formal human contact?

    Good on you, John.

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  16. I wasn't being kind... just polite x

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  17. A word, a smile, and a little attention can go far in making a person feel good about their day.

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  18. I had the same kind of experience today John and all I said was "hello there". I left all the richer for information about the Mennonite lifestyle. You never know what you can learn from someone if you just say "hello".

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  19. You may not have thought you were being kind, but you were. Polite, too, of course, but letting that dear woman talk was a huge kindness.

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  20. I used to do anything I could to avoid such conversations with strangers -- but now older, and I hope wiser, such conversations can lead to some amazing surprises. At the very least realizing what "the broad" said. Or just investing for the times when I need someone to listen to me babble.

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  21. We all know you're a good man, John.
    I have to make an appointment for one of my cats at the vet, too. Maybe I should sit out in the open this time, instead of in the corner.

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  22. Oh dear now feeling guilty about the woman I 'collected' today on my first ever morning run. But I'm normally such a garrulous person myself that I don't imagine other people (except Mr EM) might find me 'batty'. Good on you John for your forbearance and kindness in listening to your neighbour in the waiting room. There are so many lonely souls out there.

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  23. Gosh! that gave me a jolt. Touched the heart strings.

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  24. For a minute there I thought that Mabel had a new brother! You are a good man John Gray

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  25. Ah...sometimes we don't realize when we've done a good deed! You have such a good heart John...to think she'd talked to no one since before Christmas...heartbreaking!

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  26. Boy do you know how to write. My heart just jumped up and got stuck in my throat at that last bit.
    Good for you. Really.

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  27. I used to be a vet receptionist. we had an open plan reception area and I would be privvy to many such conversations with waiting clients. Some of the oldies would come in, ostensibly just to weigh their dog and sit for ages, nattering, pausing only so I could answer the phone. I loved it.

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  28. kath
    you would have made a great vet receptionist!

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  29. It can be a blessing and a curse - having the sort of face with 'please tell me the story of your life' written across it......

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  30. wanda..... my face is generally quite vacant!

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  31. "Do you know you are the first person I have spoken to properly since December the 18th"

    You most definitely war her captive audience, who unlike the others knew her as a chatterbox and ran away.

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  32. Lots of lonely people 'out there'!
    I ALWAYS attract these people.....always have since I was young. I have now 'been trained' to not look at certain people at all as we are passing by them. Otherwise I'd never have any peace! lol

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  33. P.S. Love that Degas painting and so appropriate!

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  34. politeness wins!! excellent ditty brought up a many uncomfortable emotions, then landed with a solid climax and a tear - you should publish John, really you should, then I could watch your fame grow on the TV - loved it! peace

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  35. I especially love the little detail of her holding up Winston's paw to wave you goodbye.

    I have a sinking feeling that I'm going to be that old girl some day. (If not already!)

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  36. This post and her conversation with you, made me sigh.

    She must be lonely. Thank goodness for Winston and her cat.

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  37. Well done John, and you remember ALL the details.

    I once made the mistake of saying "nice bike" to a cyclist at a pub, as I was enjoying an outdoors pint. I was then subjected to an hour's worth of bike bore, from which I've never recovered. I think the poor guy hadn't spoken to anyone in YEARS. I'm more cautious now.

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  38. Oh dear that is so sad

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  39. I never long for someone to talk to...that's why God made DOGS!

    ;-)

    I'm glad that you were a kind soul.

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  40. Sweet story...You were her first touch of human kindness in over 2 weeks.
    I wonder if I am that way at times. Being pretty much of a hermit when I'm up in N.Idaho, I can go a week or more without saying boo to anyone (besides Patrick on the phone that is). And, when I go for my back therapy rather than lay there and just relax, I jabber the whole time. Suzanne is like my shrink! x-c

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  41. John - that says it all about you - you are a wonderful listener and have made that old lady's day - week and maybe even year. Wish I was near enough to give you a hug.

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  42. This is so sad and it is so good that you lent an ear where it was appreciated more than you could ever have imagined

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  43. Random acts often have nice consequences -- you'll have made her week :-)

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  44. Aaaah...proper social services! Well done...

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  45. Wow. What a gift...for both. For all of us really. A glimpse like this into the loneliness lurking just below our fragile web of relationship shakes me to the core every time. I mean sooner or later we all take a turn down there. And sooner or later we're all touched by a hand reaching up for help and relief. I need to remember that and slow down a little. Thanks John.
    Dxxx

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  46. You're such a softy John...I think you made that lady's day. Good for you! X

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  47. I know there have been times where i have been like that woman. I work from home and can go for quite some time without a proper face-to-face conversation for several days to a week. Then blather on and on and on.

    If i feel it coming on, i try to do my bit to get out and about and talk to people when i'm out running errands.

    Good on you for being so polite.

    megan

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