Normally, my daily commutes to and from Belfast are non-events. Sure, there’s the odd delay, but in the main my train journeys are usually predictable and punctual. This week, however, was somewhat different.
Monday: As the train pulled into Lanyon Place, Belfast, I heard a loud slap/bang. I assumed it was a suitcase falling over, but as I got up to exit I saw a woman spark out on the floor being attended to by a couple of fellow passengers while the conductor phoned for an ambulance.
Tuesday: I got as far as the ticket check at Lanyon Place before seeing another unconscious woman being looked by staff. Thankfully, it appears that neither women were seriously ill.
Wednesday: No drama on journey in, but Storm Ali was brewing. By hometime, there was significant disruption to the rail network. My train home was cancelled, the later one was an “all-stops” running late. It was unable to accommodate all passengers who were crammed onto the platform, but I was one of the sardines who managed to be squeezed it. The journey took almost twice as long as usual.
Thursday: I have a strategic point marked out on Platform 1 in Carrickfergus station where the door of carriage number three usually ends up as it arrives. I try to stand there most mornings. The train pulled into the station as on time, and my plan worked again. The door is right in front of me, but it’s faulty! I had to scrabble onto another coach, but at the end of the queue rather than the front: standing room only.
Friday: I realised, while on the train to Belfast, that my monthly ticket had expired the previous day. I was more than a bit embarrassed to have to shuttle to the ‘naughty desk’ in Lanyon Place where suspected fare dodgers have a final chance to purchase a valid ticket.
More excitement in a week than I normally encounter in six months of journeying to work. Commuting is supposed to be boring, a part of the daily trudge, but it shows how even the mundane, routine, seemingly predictable things in your life can change when you least expect it. You cannot be in control of everything, no matter how well organised you are. There are so many external factors impacting on you, how could you?
It’s how we deal with these curve balls that sets us apart. To me, these incidents were just a minor irritant. Out of my control, not really causing much inconvenience, a bit of a moan and I was content. Others I shared the journeys with were not quite so philosophical. Fair to say there were some choice words used by the more agitated commuters to display their displeasure.
Of course, neither the shrug of my shoulders, nor the ranting of others could have prevented women fainting, storms sweeping across the land, doors developing a fault or my inability to check ticket expiry dates.
Put your energy into what you have some control over, deal as best you can with things you don’t. Getting worked up about those unexpected irritations is a waste of your valuable time.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou