Prescription for Disaster

Friday, 11 July 2014

Shooting the messenger... with a bazooka

Have you ever tried to help a stranger and then IMMEDIATELY regretted it so badly that you leaped onto a train just to get away from them?

This was my morning commute. I think I actually met the worst person in the world today.

I'm a Londoner. It has taken me many years to become a proper Londoner. I have perfected the art of reading a book while walking during rush hour. I always stand on the right and have no patience whatsoever for people that use large maps on crowded streets. I loathe the constant stream of tourists throughout the city with their loud accents and unseemly habit of *gasp* talking to strangers. 

We're Londoners. We don't do that. 

But I am, sadly, still quite Canadian as well.

I had made it this morning to Tottenham Court Road, a major underground station in central London and had descended further levels to get to the Northern Line, the line I needed to then get the single extra stop to my office. I traipsed through the corridors among the usual mass of London commuters, all of us wearing various forms of black and glued to our Kindles and paperback books as we marched through halls we had memorized, like well dressed sleepwalkers.

We came down a final set of stairs to the lower platform at a divide - south to the left and north to the right and I turned, reading my book, onto my usual route but was jerked from my commuter trance by a hysterical American woman with a suitcase, standing directly in everyone's way as they came down the stairs and moved around her without making eye contact.

That wouldn't be British.

She was crying and wailing, clearly lost and clearly in a lot of distress. I wanted to go on, I was already having a crappy day of a crappy week and urgently needed to get to my office. But the Canadian in me, or just the overly nice person in me, won out. 

I took a deep breath, folded the page of my book down and resolutely walked back over to her, against the crowd and quietly said "Hey, do you need some help?"

"Yes! I just got beat up by an old lady and I don't know where I am and there are no ****ing maps in this ****ing place!", she shouted in my general direction.

Ah crap. I really should have just kept going.

"Okay. Well, that sounds rough. Where are you trying to get to?"

"An old lady seriously just BEAT ME UP for NO REASON and I don't know where I'm going and nobody is helping me!"

"Okay. Well. I'M here helping you, so where is it you would like to go?"

"She BEAT ME UP!!! And nobody did anything!!! And I need to get to the Tate museum!"

Already we had a crowd. British people were backing away from us and looking at us over their books and Kindles. A blonde woman in a tight bun stared at me with her mouth open - probably in shock that I hadn't yet clocked this crazy tourist. They were certainly too smart to get involved.

"Do you mean the Tate Modern Museum? Because there are a lot of Tate's."


Alright. Fuck me sideways this woman was insane. I couldn't leave now, she might attack me. Okay. Just get her to a map and be done with it. Karma will owe me BIG TIME.

"Ah. You need to get to Waterloo I think. It's not on this line - "


"Okaaaaay. Let's find you a map."

And so she followed me down the platform to a large tube map where I talked her through the route she needed to take. She wasn't listening. Obviously she wasn't listening. Her shoulders were heaving and she was crying and you could practically see smoke coming out of her ears. I tried the gentle approach:

"Hey. Are you going to be okay?"

And she exploded.

"How could I be okay?! A woman actually BEAT ME UP! There I was, just standing there to get onto the train and it was so busy and she wouldn't get out of my way so I could get on, even though I clearly had a suitcase, so I pushed her out of my way and said 'get the **** out of my way'..."

As though pushing someone and swearing at them is a totally normal and appropriate thing to do to get onto a train somehow? 

"... and then that b*** turned around and kicked me in the leg and then punched me in the face!..."

I gotta admit. I was kind of rooting for the old lady at this point.

The American Psycho continued shouting at me

"... and then she called me a f***ing c*** and a wh*** and a b**** and then kicked me again and then she pushed me away and got on the train and it left!"

Oh my god I was wishing the violent little old lady was there right then to save me. I was so horrified by her shouting and uber loud profanity that I stopped her right there, put my hands up and pointed out that hey, I didn't beat you up. I'm here trying to help you.

She exploded again - shouting that "Why did I ask her what was wrong then?!?"

It was at this point that I started trying to back away, but my fellow Londoners had formed a semi circle around us, not getting close enough to get involved but not so far as to miss the show while they waited for the next train. The bastards. I should have been one of them.

I was in too deep now, I couldn't escape. So I calmly suggested that she contact the police, to her violent shouting retort that they couldn't do anything, the (insert excessive use of offensive expletives) woman had already left!

I pointed around us to the abundance of CCTV cameras, telling her quite calmly that this was one of the largest tube stations in the city, there are cameras everywhere and special transport police upstairs - they would be able to help her out better than I can.

Did I get a thank you? An 'oh that is so kind of you, thank you?' A 'thank you for missing your own train just to help me?' No. I got a


Yeah no. F*** that crazy lady, you're on your own. 

I literally backed up and jumped onto the packed train that was about to leave, the crazy irate American woman with the suitcase screaming behind me into the closing doors. Everyone on the train saw. People that had been on the platform were also on the train sardined around me as we clung to the ceiling handles and watched the platform pull away. They were all looking at me.

So I cleared my throat and in my best British accent (so as not to let people think that I had any commonality with the American Psycho) said

"Well, I guess that's what you get for taking a suitcase on the underground during rush hour. The nerve, right?"

Sigh. No matter how bad my day is, at least I'm not her .

Or her family or friends. Yeesh.

1 comment:

  1. LMAO as a crazy American I can say I refuse to claim that one!...I am a dual citizen though so I will claim my Canadian side and wonder if that woman's mouth will cause her to soon be shin-less