I was on my home from spending the day with my family, it had been a fun day that I really enjoyed but after a long morning at work and an afternoon of celebrating my Dad’s birthday, I was ready for home so went to the Train Station at Settle, ready to go to Skipton, North Yorkshire. The train pulled in and I said my goodbyes to my Dad before finding the seat on the train, I put in my earphones and began to listen to some music
The train wasn’t departing, I just assumed that we were waiting for a clear line or something like that so didn’t pay that much attention to the matter but 10 minutes passed by and we still hadn’t left, I took my earphones out and looked about at the platform to see just what was going on.
As I did this, I saw a young man walk past me with a big backpack on and he looked rather concerned but I assumed he was wondering the same thing that I was, little did I know that he was actually the cause of the problem! I began to hear this man mutter Appleby a few times and since we were in Settle (if you look at the map) you might be able to see where this is going!
Appleby is about 50 miles away from Settle and this man had somehow missed his stop and only realised this an hour later as the train approached Settle! Now most people would just go to the other platform and just board the next train north to Appleby, problem solved! The issue here is that it as 8pm and the next train to Appleby wasn’t until 10:30 the next morning, meaning that he was pretty much stuck miles away from his home, not a nice situation to be in! It was late and this line only has trains every couple of hours but on the weekend, they are reduced and the last ones normally depart to Carlisle about early evening and a taxi up cost a fortune… yet we tried to call him one but the phone reception in the area was terrible! What ever was going to happen to him, it was going to cost him or his Mother quite a bit of money!
The train conductor was trying to help this man out as they were thinking of a sensible way of getting him home safely as he had no train back and the station had no staff as they had gone home, his Mother wasn’t answering her phone…he felt stuck and lost. It was at this moment that I realised he had a disability of some kind…the train conductor said to him in the end that he had to take him to the next staffed station because of what he had…I never found out exactly what he had…I think I heard Cerebral Palsy being mentioned! We eventually departed and as we made our way through the countryside, the man sat down next to me and began to apologise for holding up the train for so long, he was worried that everyone would hate him but I wasn’t mad…I told him to not worry about it as accidents happen to us all sometimes.
He explained that before the train had arrived at Appleby, he assumed he could go to the bathroom but as he was finished, the train was leaving Horton in Ribblesdale, meaning he had been in the toilet for nearly an hour, even though he told me many times it was only 5 minutes! I felt unsure about how to deal with the situation because it was quite serious and I could see he was very stressed about it all, beating himself up for ending up so far south of home. I just tried to keep him calm and talk to him about his day before hand to keep his mind calm.
Two other gentlemen spoke to him as well and they told him that accidents happened but he kept blaming himself and kept saying sorry all the time, I felt for him and I don’t know why but I was really worried about him…I felt the pain and just wanted to help as much as I could…I didn’t like seeing someone in that much distress, not knowing what was going to happen to him in this strange place he had never been to before. I always feel a bit nervous in a new destination, especially if I don’t know anyone or anything about it! He felt all alone as well….apart from a few strangers trying to keep him calm…I can only imagine what he was really thinking.
The train conductor returned and explained that he still couldn’t get in hold of the Mother but has rang the police as the company had to ‘wipe their hands’ of the incident as they realistically could do no more than make sure the man was safe as it would have been ‘morally wrong’ to leave him in a town with no one around who could help him at all! I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to him once we got to Skipton but I had to believe that he was going to somehow get back home and have a very surprised Mother who probably still hadn’t looked at her phone! Just imagine if you had missed your stop and was miles away from home in a place where no one could help you except for a few strangers on the train, I don’t know about you but I would probably feel on the edge, be panicked about getting home and the thought of having the police involved would terrify me to no end!
The train arrived into Skipton and two staff members were waiting on the platform for him, the police hadn’t arrived yet. The man didn’t think we were at the right station but I told that this was were he needed to get off and the men would look after him. The last thing I said to him was ‘You”ll be alright, don’t worry!’ I saw him go into the station office and that was that…I slowly set off for home but paused and waited for a few minutes…part of me wanted to wait until the police arrived or I’d constantly think about it all night! Eventually though, I convinced myself that everything would be fine and went home but I couldn’t get the incident out of my mind all night…I was just worried but I din’t know why because I knew that everyone else will have moved on from it and assumed that everything would have been alright, so shouldn’t I as well?
Did I do enough, Did I help the situation out at all? I normally doubt that I didn’t do enough and it’s a flaw, I’ll admit but I did the best that I could after being put on the spot like that…I had no idea that I was going to be a part of the story at all…I mean if I had gotten on the other carriage than maybe I wouldn’t have seen the man at all or spoke to him, I don’t know but I just thought a little kindness might go a long way…I spoke to him and made him smile a little before wishing him luck…I didn’t find out if he made it home but in my mind, he must have done…no one would leave him abandoned so far from home….maybe his Mum finally answered the phone…maybe they got a taxi for him…sorted out accommodation…I just hope that he can get past this incident and one day laugh about it!
What would you have done in that situation and have you ever missed your station stop and ended up in a unfamiliar destination?