The Train I Had Missed.
I was recently in touch with RD and he did me the honor of asking me to jot down a few lines as a guest post for his blog, a blog that is coming up for an anniversary. It was a privilege to be asked but my immediate thought was “Me? What could I possibly say that would be of any interest? I’m not a Police Officer so what would I know and how could I express myself for I’m certainly no writer.”
“Just something loosely police based” he said and in the guise of such simple logic how could I not try. So that left me thinking “What could I write about? I’m in a different country half a world away”.
I decided to go for a walk and while enjoying the exercise and I started to think of the changes that had taken place in the area in which I live. All of the changes I could see were physical but it got me to thinking of other changes. Changes within people, changes of the way people think and behave. My thoughts didn’t have to travel down this road very far before I found myself once more thinking of the train I had missed. It is a thought that has over the years slipped many times into my daily consciousness and one that still makes me wonder about those around me.
When I tried to remember when it all happened I was surprised to realise that it must have occurred back in the late 1980’s or the early 1990’s. It’s a time that seems so far away but for me a time that represents when I first noticed that we as a community had changed.
I use to catch the train to work and often on the same train I would see a man whose occupation was a Police Officer. Did I know this because I am particularly observant? I would have to say no. I knew because back then off duty officers travelling to and from work would travel in uniform. He would usually read his book and I would read mine but it was nice knowing he was there. We never spoke or interrupted each other as we were simply two travelers on the same train. I only saw him in the mornings for our times going home never were the same.
This routine had continued on for a couple of months and like most routines you begin to believe they are set in stone and so it was with surprise that one morning in the local paper there was the story of a Policeman who had been attacked on his way home and if that wasn’t bad enough it was the man with whom I caught the morning train. I couldn’t believe it. How could this be?
There had evidently been a disturbance on the train and this off duty Officer found it necessary to have a word to the trouble maker and his friends to quiet the situation as best he could and to go from off duty to on in an attempt to look after the general law abiding populace that also rode the train with him.
According to reports as he got off the train so the trouble followed and in the station car park he found himself confronted by six men intent on doing him harm. A fight broke out. There were no knives or guns it was purely a fist fight but it was a fight where one man stood against six and could easily have been just as deadly.
As I read on I expected to find that other travelers had come to his aid to stand against these six cowards. The station was the last stop on the line and the train was never empty. Amongst all of those people who got off and made their way home there would have been many able bodied men and all it needed was for a few to stand in support and to say this stops.
Cowards never like odds that come anywhere near even and I strongly believe that if a few had stood shoulder to shoulder with this man, this man who pulled on a uniform each day to protect and serve his community then the situation he faced would have been completely different. It was a chance for the community to return the compliment to him. It was a chance to help but no one did.
My immediate thought was “Why wasn’t I on that train? And where was everyone who was?”
Would I have been much help? Who knows but I would have been there as I would not have seen him stand alone. It would have been my chance to show my support but that was the train I had missed for that was the train I never caught.
No one stood with him but someone must have phoned the Police for soon help from the local Police station arrived and the six cowards were taken into custody and the one and only man that caught the train that day got both the physical and the medical help he needed.
In the coming weeks I looked for him on the morning train. I wanted break our mutual silence to let him know that what he did was appreciated. I wanted him to know that if I had been on that train then I would have been there for him. I wanted him to understand that not everyone would stand inert or walk away.
However, I never did see him on the train again. I know that not long after the incident a directive was issued that Officers were not to wear their uniforms when traveling to and from work but I’d still like to think I’d recognized the man if I saw him and that I was not just another who like so many others only saw the uniform and not the man who wore it.
To this day it annoys me that I wasn’t there when needed and it annoys me more that I wasn’t able to somehow let him know how I felt. It is not a thought that’s going to go away and I know I will carry it with me for years to come.
This incident made me ask myself the question that when good people do nothing and choose not to see are they still good people? They don’t break any laws and they can be the best of neighbours and friends and yet they have that ability to turn a blind eye.
I was raised on the principle that we are here to help each other and I know that I am not alone in this belief but what happened that day? Did we all miss the train?
I was born and grew up in Western Australia. I work in Perth and live in one of the outer suburbs. I am just one of the many who work in an office. I have a family member, a younger brother, who is a serving Police Officer and I sometimes get a glimpse into part of his day. My parents raised me to respect our Police Officers and to appreciate the work they do. It is a point of view that has only grown stronger over the years. And yes, I still catch the train to work.