Old Man on Platform Five – A Love Story
Nov 21, 2009
As I sit, contemplating a tragic love story I have just finished reading, an old man shuffles by awkwardly, slowly. He seems tired, very tired, and I imagine he wants a seat but is too shy to ask. He continues westbound without stopping or looking my way.
Partly through guilt, partly through sorrow and partly through a deep compassion for humanity which has resulted from the tragic love story, I decide to ask him if he’d like a seat. By now he is 20 metres down the platform, at that point where one often thinks "Oh, he’s too far away now. I won’t bother. It’d be awkward."
But I catch up to him within seconds (it has taken him minutes to travel the same distance) and I ask, "Would you like a seat?" He looks at me with a slightly confused expression.
"Would you like a seat."
Friendly now, in broken English replies, "Oh no, I just stretch my legs. I need to keep moving them." He pauses, "But thank you, that was very kind of you."
And then he continues, "I had set-back today, very bad set-back. I ask young woman to help me with trolley but she not bother saying anything – just keeps walking. It hurt me very deep.", and he places his hand over his heart.
I wish him all the best for his weekend and offer him my hand. We shake, looking into each other’s eyes, he thanks me again and we head off in different directions. I return to my seat which thankfully remained unoccupied and cry for Helene in the love story and for humanity in general.